Senior Congress leader Siddaramaiah on Friday challenged the ruling BJP in Karnataka to name a leader from the Scheduled Caste community as its next Chief Minister amid speculations that the incumbent B S Yediyurappa will step down. “Nalin Kumar Kateel (state BJP President) had challenged me stating that- let Siddaramaiah announce a Dalit as a CM (candidate). From our party 4 SC leaders had been the Chief Ministers in the past like- Shinde (Sushilkumar Shinde) in Maharashtra, Jagannath Pahadia- Rajasthan, Damodaram Sanjeevaiah-Andhra Pradesh," Siddaramaiah said.
Speaking to reporters here, he said now there is an opportunity, let Kateel make a person from Schedule Caste as the Chief Minister. “Anyways, Yediyurappa will be removed (from CM post), now there is an opportunity for them (BJP), let them do it.
Anyways the seat (CM seat) will get vacant after Yediyurappa’s exit, let them do so if they have love towards SCs. They (BJP) don’t respect social justice, but question others," he added. Amid heightened buzz about leadership change, Yediyurappa on Thursday had indicated that his exit from the CM post was imminent.
Reacting to Siddaramaiah, while accusing him of orchestrating the defeat of senior Congress leader G Parameshwara, a dalit, in the 2013 assembly polls, to stop him becoming the CM, the state BJP said, “Siddaramaiah speaking on Dalit CM issue is same as Gandhi family (Sonia and Rajeev Gandhi) preaching about family politics." Challenging Siddaramaiah, who is a CM aspirant for 2023, to announce a dalit leader as the Congress’ Chief Ministerial candidate, the BJP in a tweet called him a “traitor" of Dalits. Responding to a question on pontiffs of various mutts, coming out in support of Yediyurappa and demanding for his continuation as the chief minister, Siddaramaiah opined that it was not right on the part of pontiffs to interfere in the internal affairs of any party.
“Pontiffs, from whichever community they may be, they should not meddle in politics. Sharing their opinion is a different matter…the mandate and the opinion of the people is most important in democracy," he said. Hitting out at the BJP government, he said, at the time when they should be working on a war-footing, to help people in distress due to floods and when damage has been caused to life and property, they are going for a change of Chief Minister.
“Whoever may replace Yediyurappa, as the BJP itself is a corrupt party and it is a corrupt government, the new Chief Minister who will come will also be corrupt. As early as this government goes, it is good for the state," he added. Responding to a question on his recent visit to Delhi and meeting with former Congress President Rahul Gandhi, Siddaramaiah said he has advised us to work unitedly to overthrow this corrupt BJP government in the state and bring back Congress to power by strengthening it.