Principles come before CM post, says Kharge

Principles come before CM post, says Kharge

Veteran Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge at an interaction organised by Deccan Herald and Prajavani on Thursday. DH Photo

Veteran Congress leader M Mallikarjun Kharge on Thursday said his aspirations and principles like ushering in equality in society and eradication of poverty took precedence over occupying the chief minister’s post.

In an interaction with Deccan Herald and Prajavani in Bengaluru, Kharge admitted that “many meritorious leaders” of the Congress could not become chief ministers. He, however, refused to link it to the fact that they were Dalits. He also downplayed remarks that he himself could not become a chief minister because he was a Dalit.

“I entered politics believing in principles and during my 48 years in public life, I  tried to implement them. This takes precedence over everything else, including being chief minister,” Kharge said.

Kharge is a nine-term MLA and two-term MP and has never lost an election since 1972. There have been voices in the Congress that claimed Kharge was denied an opportunity to become chief minister by his detractors. “If my party, when in power, serves the people, I am satisfied,” he said.

On charges by a few Congress leaders that he was denied the post because he is a Dalit, Kharge said it was wrong to brand him under any particular community or category. To a query that his name was proposed for the chief minister’s post when the Congress and the JD(S) decided to stitch together a coalition to form the government in Karnataka last year, Kharge said, “I came to know about that... but this is not the right time to speak about it.”

Asked what his stand would be if the Lok Sabha elections threw up a hung Parliament and in the ensuing coalition set-up, he emerges as the “consensus prime minister”, Kharge said, “It is too premature and not right to talk about it. Our priority is to secure a majority.”

On the non-implementation of the A J Sadashiva Commission report which recommends internal reservation among Scheduled Castes in the state, Kharge said, “A similar experiment was tried in Andhra Pradesh, but it could not stand the test of law.” It is not right to drive a wedge among Schedule Castes, he added.