Dalit CM ‘challenge’ bothers Karnataka Congress

The Karnataka Congress unit which has been already badly hit by the cold war between Opposition leader Siddaramaiah and state President D.K. Shivakumar, just added one more woe after the Punjab experiment.

Party sources say that, in spite of the cold war between Shivakumar and Siddaramaiah, the Congress party has been able to gain the momentum against the ruling BJP in Karnataka. They fear that BJP will take advantage in case Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar stop their pro activeness.

Prominent JD(S) leader H.D. Revanna has challenged the Congress party to prove its commitment to the oppressed classes by announcing a Dalit candidate for the post of Chief Minister. “No use of giving lip service on this issue,” he chided.

One of the prominent Dalit leader from the state, former deputy chief minister G. Parameshwara had said that the Congress party would consider a Dalit candidate for the post of the Chief Minister if party came to power in the next assembly elections on the lines of elevation of Charajit Singh Channi in Punjab.

Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar, who are vying with each other for the top post were stunned by the sudden statement of Parameshwar, saying that the Congress high command will take an appropriate decision when the time comes.

Siddaramaiah, known as the champion of backward classes, is in a fix over the issue. His supporters who were openly stating about Siddaramaiah taking the reins are also hesitant to make any statement as they fear that the followers of Parameshwara might openly demand a Dalit leader for the top job.

On the other hand, Shivakumar, also considers himself in contention for the CM’s post. The debate generated on Dalit CM has equally upset him, sources in the party said.

The party leaders reveal that Parameshwara is not a mass leader and he can pitch in his candidature in opposition to tall leaders like Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar. However, this debate is likely to benefit veteran Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge.

Kharge, who hates to be branded as a Dalit leader has a mass appeal and he is an unquestionable leader of backward classes in the state. If the party decides on him in event of Congress attaining majority, Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar will not be in a position to oppose the party’s stand either within the party and outside as well.

Kharge narrowly missed an opportunity to become the Chief Minister of Karnataka in 2004 when JD (S), the coalition partner, preferred Dharam Singh over Kharge. After the independence, no Dalit leader has been able to occupy the top post in the state so far. If Congress decides to go with the Punjab model, it will create a history in the state.