Mysuru: Virtually admitting that the Congress may fall short of a majority in the Assembly polls and maybe ruling himself out of the race in such a situation, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Sunday said it was fine if the party decides to have a Dalit chief minister.
His statement has fuelled speculation that veteran leader Mallikarjun Kharge or KPCC president Dr. G. Parameshwar could be the CM choice if the Congress falls short of the required numbers and is forced to strike a pact with the JD(S) to form a coalition government. This comment is also in sharp contrast to the stance taken by Siddaramaiah throughout the poll campaign that he would become CM again though the final decision is left to the Congress high command.
“If the high command wants to make a Dalit the CM, I have no problem with that. I will ask them to go ahead. I am not against anybody. But MLAs have to give their opinion and the high command has to agree. It can’t happen forcefully, if that happens, they can’t run the government. I have completed five years today.
There was no dissident activity. Former CMs Devraj Urs, Veerendra Patil, S. Bangarappa and Veerappa Moily all had some dissatisfied MLAs. But for the first time, there was no dissatisfied MLA during my tenure though one or two may have made statements against me.
By and large, I was able to secure the co-operation of the high command, all ministers, MLAs and MPs. I have served people honestly. People liked my work, there was no anti incumbency in the state," he said.
Siddaramaiah's comment came in the context of conflicting reports of a hung Assembly after the May 15 poll results with some exit polls predicting a fractured verdict-a situation in which the Janata Dal (Secular) of Mr Deve Gowda could play kingmaker and extract its price for extending support or tying up with the Congress or Bharatiya Janata Party. The Chief Minister’s ties with Janata Dal (Secular) leaders have been anything but cordial in recent months sealing his chances of making it to the top post if the Congress cobbles together a coalition with Gowda's party.
Despite his comments on a Dalit Chief Minister, Siddaramaiah continued to assert that the Congress will get a clear majority and return to power winning 120 seats.On the exit polls, he remarked, “They may be true to some extent but not completely true.” On several leaders in the Congress aspiring to be Chief Minister, he said, “I don’t think it is wrong or bad. In a democracy there have to be opportunities for such aspirations.”
On his prospects in Badami and Chamundeshwari-the two seats he is contesting from, the Chief Minister said, “I will win in both. I will get a good majority in Badami. In Chamundeshwari we may not get the expected lead but we will get a lead still. G.T. Devegowda (JD-S candidate) has spent a lot of money, I don't know from where he got it. Nobody can win only with money and not unless he enjoys people's love. The byelection in Chamundeshwari in 2006 was the toughest, this one was not so tough.”
Describing the assembly election results as a stepping stone for the coming parliamentary elections in 2019, he said, “After this, there will be elections in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and after that we will capture power in the country.”
Asked if he aspired to enter national politics Siddaramaiah said, “Even if Brahma says so, I will not contest elections again. I am done with elections. Nor will I go to Delhi. In fact I had decided this at the time the previous elections were held in 2013. But after being Chief Minister for five years, I could not just run away from my responsibilities, so I contested again. But I will be in active politics. I will fight for social justice, against communal forces. I will be useful for the party in the parliamentary and future assembly elections. Dr B.R. Ambedkar won only one election but had his share of followers because of his ideology.
JP (Jayaprakash Narayan) did not contest the 1977 elections but under his leadership, all parties united and defeated the Congress. I will continue to serve the people. It is not necessary to contest elections to serve people.”
Meanwhile his rival in Chamundeshwari constituency, G.T. Devegowda, relaxed at a resort in Kodagu with his friends on Sunday....