Why Nirmala Sitharaman is unanimous choice for RS seat for BJP Karnataka


Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is the top choice of the BJP’s Karnataka unit for one of the Rajya Sabha seats falling vacant next month. She has enjoyed a unanimous acceptance for a re-nomination for a second term, a privilege not many people can claim.

Whenever the BJP picked a non-Kannadiga for a Rajya Sabha nomination in the past, sections of party workers quietly or vocally at times protested lobbying hard for a local face. When M Venkaiah Naidu’s third term ended in 2016, there had been a campaign by sections of the party men urging the party not to send him to the Rajya Sabha again from Karnataka. The party quietly moved Naidu to Rajasthan and brought Sitharaman in. Though she comes from Tamil Nadu, she never faced any problem though Karnataka’s relationship with Tamil Nadu over Cauvery is testy.

Many a time, her visits to the state did not attract much media attention. She showed up often, toured parts of the state including Kodagu district when flash floods ravaged the hilly-region in 2018.

In a chat with the media in Udupi on Saturday, Union junior minister for agriculture Shobha Karandlaje called her a role model for women in the country. “It is not an easy task for a woman to become union minister and handle various portfolios. She should continue to be a Rajya Sabha member from Karnataka in future too,” Karandlaje was quoted as saying. Sitharaman visited Udupi and Kollur temples on Saturday.

According to Samir Kagalkar, convenor of Karnataka BJP’s economic cell, Sitharaman’s capabilities came to the fore and were specifically noticed during the Covid-19 pandemic. She worked under extreme pressure, yet focussed on easy access to credit to people rather than cash doles. She also focussed on unclogging supply-side issues, he said.

One of the reasons why no one raised a whimper this time is she comes from a different generation of BJP leaders, who enjoys Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s trust. Politically she keeps a low-profile, and whenever she is on a visit to Karnataka, her media interaction is almost always limited to governance-related issues. She rarely talks politics, though she can do that effortlessly having earlier been a national spokesperson for the party, a BJP leader said.

Then there is also this feeling that it is a matter of pride for the party’s state unit that one of its Rajya Sabha members is a Finance Minister. She will always bear the interests of the state in mind in budget allocations, he added.

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