Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Siddaramaiah has created a fresh political row after his private conversation - on how the party is not wooing the dominant Lingayat and Vokkaliga communities - was leaked.
And it is in this context that Siddaramaiah takes a dig at former minister D K Shivakumar, with whom he is seen to have a pugnacious relationship.
In a 50-second video that went viral, Siddaramaiah is seen casually chatting with former Piriyapatna legislator K Venkatesh and others. “See, Lingayats will not be the same to B S Yediyurappa and Vokkaligas won’t be the same to H D Kumaraswamy,” Siddaramaiah says, on how both leaders are losing clout over their communities.
To this, Venkatesh says, “Yes, and our own people aren’t ready to encash this,” with which Siddaramaiah concurs. “Shivakumar waves the JD(S) flag. What does that mean?” Venkatesh says. Siddaramaiah adds, “(Shivakumar) holds the flags of both Congress and JD(S). What should we say for that? I’ve said in Gadag that we won’t have anything to do with the JD(S), come what may.”
This conversation adds credence to the view that not everyone in the Congress is happy with the relationship Shivakumar, a Vokkaliga, shares with Kumaraswamy.
This is Siddaramaiah’s third “private” conversation that has been leaked. Last year, soon after the Congress-JD(S) coalition came to power, leaked videos showed Siddaramaiah expressing uncertainty on the longevity of the government after the Lok Sabha polls.
The BJP was quick to attack Siddaramaiah, dubbing him as casteist.
Shivakumar played down him waving the JD(S) flag during his grand homecoming reception last Saturday. “Hundreds of people gave me Kannada flags and others. There were people from all parties. Even now, there are four JD(S) MLAs waiting to see me. Can I ask them not to come see me? I was born a Congressman,” Shivakumar told reporters. Asked about Siddaramaiah’s comments, he roundly said: “He has a lot of love for me.”
Siddaramaiah was forced to clarify in a series of tweets and dismissed the row as “fake news” while lashing out at the BJP. “I have always been inspired by Ambedkar, Gandhiji, Basavanna & Kuvempu in my commitment to social justice,” he said, stressing that he was not casteist.
“The statement in the video is, in fact, my expression of happiness that people see beyond the caste to decide their representatives...What is wrong if I say that people are being secular?”