Bengaluru: Amid the 'Siddaramaiah for CM' clamour in Karnataka, Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy has said Congress veteran M Mallikarjun Kharge should have been given the position a long time ago and "injustice" was done to the leader.
His remarks come amid a bitter spat between the leaders of the ruling coalition partners Congress and JD(S) to make Siddaramaiah the state chief minister once again. But the comments gave fresh ammunition to the BJP to target the alliance government.
BJP state unit chief B S Yeddyurappa asked Kumaraswamy of the JD(S) to immediately vacate the post for Kharge, the leader of the Congress in Lok Sabha.
Kharge, a nine-time MLA and two-term Lok Sabha member who has never tasted electoral defeat, termed Kumaraswamy's remarks as "election-time statement."
Addressing a meeting in Chincholi assembly segment for a by-election attended by Kharge on Tuesday, Kumaraswamy said the Congress leader should have become chief minister long ago. "Mallikarjun Kharge should have become the chief minister long ago.
I feel injustice has been done to him. I would like to clearly say Kharge has not been given recognition for the work he has done (for his party)," Kumaraswamy said, adding there has been a "fault somewhere". Kharge could have become the CM in the current coalition government but he said he will abide by the Congress leadership's decision, Kumaraswamy revealed.
Latching onto the remarks, Yeddyurappa asked Kumaraswamy to resign and make Kharge CM. "He (Kumaraswamy) has said he (Kharge) should have become CM long ago. To make his dream come true, let him resign tomorrow itself and make Kharge the chief minister," the BJP leader told reporters in Kalaburagi Wednesday.
Senior BJP legislator Basanagouda Patil Yatnal termed Kumaraswamy's remarks a conspiracy aimed at creating a rift between Siddaramaiah and Kharge to continue in power. "If he wants to make Kharge (CM), he can give up the seat for him. It is kind of a drama (by Kumaraswamy)," he said, adding no one, even in Congress, was interested in making Kharge CM.
Yeddyurappa, however, claimed the Congress-JD(S) government would fall due to a rift between both parties. "I have never said we will topple the government. We are not making attempts. JD(S) and Congress are fighting each other and because of their differences, the government will collapse," he said.
Siddaramaiah, the coalition coordination committee chairman, has termed the growing clamour within Congress to make him the chief minister as an expression of supporters' affection, but said he still stands by his word to not contest the next assembly election. Chincholi assembly seat will go to bypolls on May 19.
Subhash Rathod is the Congress candidate there. Kharge has been elected twice from Gulbarga Lok Sabha constituency and has been a central cabinet minister during Congress rule in the past.
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