Ahead of polls, Dalit CM issue to the fore again in Cong

Ahead of polls, Dalit CM issue to the fore again in Cong

Even as the Congress is playing its cards close to its chest on the next chief minister, speculation is rife in party circles in the state that the high command is considering to have a Dalit as the next chief minister if the party retains power in the coming Assembly elections.

Congress leader in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge and KPCC president G Parameshwara, two top Dalit leaders, are aspirants for the chief minister's post. While Kharge missed the chance of becoming the chief minister in 2013 when the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) favoured Siddaramaiah to Kharge while electing its leader, Parameshwara could not claim the post as he lost the election from Koratagere. Both the leaders belong to SC (Right wing.)

Besides, Kharge and Parameshwara are party "loyalists."

Making either of these leaders the chief minister will not only help the party to enter the good books of the Dalit community but also send out a message to the party "loyalists" that it is not ignoring them, a senior party leader said.

"No doubt, Siddaramaiah will be leading the party in the coming polls. But, Kharge too has a legitimate claim over the chief minister's post," one of AICC secretaries incharge of Karnataka said.

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah's statement in Mysuru on Thursday that his Man Friday and Public Works Minister H C Mahadevappa is one of the contenders for the chief minister's post, also adds credence to the speculation that the high command is considering having a Dalit as the next chief minister. Mahadevappa too belongs to the SC (Right wing). Siddaramaiah's statement is seen as an effort to pre-empt the high command's possible move to install Kharge or Parameshwara as chief minister if party returns to power.

Siddaramaiah and Mahadevappa, who quit the JD(S) and joined the Congress almost a decade ago, are still seen as migrants by the 'original' Congressmen.

In fact, Siddaramaiah had a tough time dealing with the 'Dalit CM' issue about two years ago. Number of Dalit organisations had raised the demand for Dalit CM. But, Siddaramaiah a shrewd politician, had managed to pacify Dalit leaders both inside and outside the Congress.

The Congress high command has been maintaining that the CLP will elect the next chief minister though Siddaramaiah will lead the party in polls.

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