have wound in and out of the impressive city and its key industrial centres, all connected by speed rail. On his return over the weekend to resume work back home in Bangalore, many hope that he will look at development and urban infrastructure with a changed gaze.
It is exactly four months into Siddaramaiah’s tenure as chief minister, and Karnataka’s industry has begun reading meaning into his statements and actions, or the lack thereof. They see in him a former socialist who barely hides his loathing for urbanism, the English language or slick corporate executives — much like his former mentor and chief-minister-turned-prime-minister, H.D. Deve Gowda. Siddaramaiah’s commendable first actions were the launch of welfare schemes such as One Rupee Rice for poor families and the doubling of the support price for milk farmers. After several weeks of waiting to see similar, strong signals on industrial development, infrastructure and Bangalore, the murmur amongst bureaucrats and industry folk is that Siddaramaiah could not care less about any of these.
At one of his first meetings with key industry and city activists soon after assuming office, an unsmiling Siddaramaiah is quoted to have said, “This kind of growth cannot go on in Bangalore.” Those present at the meeting decoded the chief minister’s statement as an effort to discount the city. Some days later, the chief minister did not show up at a scheduled meeting with prospective investors, including some who had flown in from overseas. Hours later, a message arrived through an aide, “The chief minister is indisposed.”
The chief minister was again a no-show for another meeting of the Bangalore Chamber of Commerce where industry leaders like N.R. Narayana Murthy, executive chairman of Infosys, waited for him. Interestingly, key persons at that meeting joked nervously that, “the chief minister does not like us.”
Industrialists say that the chief minister is unwilling to face up to the reality that the road to investment in interior Karnataka is through Bangalore, one of India’s few globally recognised brands that even US President Barack Obama frequently alludes to. And unless the government creates infrastructure, such as good roads from