Ready to make way for Dalit CM, says Siddaramaiah

Ready to make way for Dalit CM, says Siddaramaiah

Yeddyurappa stresses he is next CM

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah. DH photo

A day after a record number of people turned out to vote in the Assembly polls, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah dropped a curious hint by claiming that he had no qualms if the Congress high command chooses a ‘Dalit chief minister’.

With hours to go for the counting process to commence on Tuesday, the day also witnessed both the Congress and the BJP claiming that they will get a full majority despite several exit polls indicating a hung verdict. 

Siddaramaiah, who had maintained all along that he would be the chief minister again, said that he was ready to make way for a Dalit chief minister if his party leadership so desired.

Political circles were rife with speculation that Siddaramaiah was ready for the compromise in the event of a hung Assembly and setting the ground for an alliance with the JD(S). Besides, in the Congress too, there are several Dalit chief ministerial aspirants.

But Siddaramaiah did not give away anything directly. Speaking to reporters in Mysuru, he said, “I will have no contentions if the party high command desires to make a Dalit the chief minister. MLAs have to give their opinion -- the high command should also agree. Nobody can be made the chief minister forcefully -- it will create problems to run the government.”

Soon after Siddaramaiah made this statement, senior party leader Mallikarjun Kharge and KPCC president G Parameshwara -- also frontrunners for the coveted post, said they would shoulder the responsibility, albeit reluctantly.

“I will welcome the move if the party considers me for the post based on my seniority and not because of my caste. I never applied for the chief minister’s post because I am a Dalit”, Kharge said.

Parameshwara, for his part, said that he welcomed Siddaramaiah’s stand. He was, however, quick to add that traditionally, the Congress legislature party and the high command decided on the chief ministerial candidate. Speaking to reporters in Bengaluru, he said that Siddaramaiah, too, had been chosen in a similar manner.

But not everybody in the party is in favour of the Dalit chief minister pitch.

Water Resources Minister M B Patil, who championed the Lingayat cause on behalf of Siddaramaiah, had a different take. Batting in favour of Siddaramaiah, Patil said that traditionally, those who had led the party during the elections had been made chief ministers by the high command.

At the same time, both Siddaramaiah and BJP chief ministerial candidate B S Yeddyurappa stated that their respective parties will win 120-130 seats.

HDK, son off to Singapore
While the BJP and the Congress continued trading charges, the JD(S) maintained a stoic silence. After pooh-poohing the exit polls, which have given his party abysmally low numbers, JD(S) state president H D Kumaraswamy is said to have flown to Singapore along with his son Nikhil for a two-day break.