Stop calling me Dalit, says angry Mallikarjun Kharge

Veteran Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge. (DH photo)

Veteran Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge on Wednesday lost his cool when he was asked about his chief ministerial prospects, especially in the context of him being Dalit. 

“Why do you keep saying Dalit again and again? Don’t say that. I’m a Congressman,” Kharge snapped when reporters asked him about speculation revolving around his recent statement that he will deliver “good news” on December 9, when the bypoll results will be out. 

Some have interpreted his “good news” statement as a scenario in which he will become the chief minister in a possible Congress-JD(S) coalition after the BJP government falls. Former chief minister HD Kumaraswamy of the JD(S) said Kharge’s “good news” will make Dalits happy. 

“You talk as if there’s a reserved seat (for a Dalit to become the CM),” Kharge said. “Can I keep identifying people by caste - he's a Kuruba, he's a Vokkaliga, you're a Lingayat, you're a should understand,” he said.  

Clarifying his statement, Kharge said: “All I said was there'll be good news because we will win all 15 seats. After that, let's see what political changes happen. That's what I meant by good news.”  

The ‘Dalit CM’ has been a contentious issue, especially for the Congress with Kharge and G Parameshwara projected as candidates. 

Kharge is said to have missed the opportunity of becoming the chief minister in 2013. Likewise, Parameshwara has lamented publicly that he was “prevented” from becoming a chief minister because he was Dalit. 

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