Party, industry peeved at Sidda’s IT choice

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By K.M. RAKESH
  • Published 31.05.13
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Bangalore, May 30: Chief minister P.C. Siddaramaiah’s choice of S.R. Patil as information technology and biotechnology minister has prompted questions from the industry and a Congress lobby whether the 65-year-old has the stature, age and background for the job.

“Surprised at choice of minister for IT/BT for Karnataka. Need a person who can work with global companies and lot younger. Sad day for us,” tweeted Mohandas Pai, educationist and former Infosys director, triggering a social media debate.

Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, chairperson and managing director of Biocon, responded: “Agree with your view — CM can’t afford to be seen to be viewing IT/BT lightly — These are priority sectors for Karnataka.”As the industry reaction set off a buzz in the social media, Shaw took a diplomatic approach. “I am sure he (Patil) will make best efforts to deliver good results will be pleased to work with him in this endeavour,” she commented.

But Pai later posted another tweet: “New government in Karnataka seems to be losing its mojo. Choice of ministers not ideal for portfolios. CM should relook portfolio allocation.”

Neither Pai nor Shaw could be reached for comments.

Patil, from Bagalkot in north Karnataka, is a science and law graduate but is not known to have any interest in new-age technology. Even some Congress MLAs rued what they saw as the chief minister’s failure to utilise a good opportunity to revitalise the IT sector.

“I thought either Krishna Byre Gowda (son of former minister C. Byre Gowda) or Dinesh Gundu Rao (son of former chief minister Gundu Rao) would get the IT/BT portfolio,” said a Congress lawmaker.

“It’s not about his age but I doubt Patil can handle this portfolio, so important to this city and state.”

When reporters met Patil in the Assembly lobby today, he asked: “Why should someone be worried about my age?”

Rahul Karuna, crisis manager with a BPO, said the IT/BT ministry deserved a heavyweight. “We were expecting a big name or a young minister,” he said.

“It’s not about the age or looks of the man; it’s that this portfolio deserves a more powerful politician.”

An IT professional from Kerala differed. “First, it’s the chief minister’s prerogative to form his cabinet. Second, no one can rule out anyone,” he said.

“Just see how (former Kerala chief minister) V.S. Achuthanandan did a good job as IT minister in his eighties. In many cases, people from a totally different background do well.”

Senthil Sundaram, senior manager with a software firm, said: “Whoever takes charge must understand the strengths of the Indian IT workforce and the talent we have. From what I see, employee welfare is an issue.”

S.M. Shashtri, who works for a medium-level software firm, said: “With the return of the Congress, we thought things would be better and perhaps match the work of S.M. Krishna’s cabinet (1999-2004).”