I am okay with Dalit CM, but high command has to listen to MLAs choice: Siddaramaiah

He was quick to add that the decision cannot be forced, and that the MLAs’ opinion will play a role in deciding who will be the Chief Minister.
I am okay with Dalit CM, but high command has to listen to MLAs choice: Siddaramaiah
I am okay with Dalit CM, but high command has to listen to MLAs choice: Siddaramaiah
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A day after Karnataka voted in the Assembly elections after witnessing a high-octane campaign between the BJP and Congress, incumbent Chief Minister Siddaramaiah stated that he has no problem if the high command decides to choose a Dalit leader for the state's top post. But, he made it clear, no one could forcibly take the decision – and he was quick to add that he was popular among MLAs, whose opinion will have weight in the final decision.

"If High Command says they will make a Dalit the CM, I will tell them go ahead. I am not against anybody. But you see, MLAs also have to give an opinion... No one can force... MLAs also have to give their opinion. High Command also has to agree to that. Forcefully making someone a CM is difficult. You can't run a government like that," said Siddaramaiah in Mysuru.

It is believed that his comments here are in reference to senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge, who is also a CM aspirant and a prominent Dalit leader in the party. Siddaramaiah and Kharge reportedly locked horns several times in the run-up to the polls, with both of them finding each other on opposite sides of the argument while deciding who should get tickets.

It is also believed that Siddaramaiah didn’t initially get a ticket to contest in Badami due to Kharge’s intervention.

The CM also made it clear that he wished to continue in the post if Congress wins. "I'm very confident Congress party will get majority, and I hope I will be the Chief Minister,” Siddaramaiah said.

"In these five years, there has been no dissident activity against me. Not a single MLA is against me. That's not easy... Even Devaraj Urs had (dissent)... Veerendra Patil too... Moily as well... But not me. All MLAs have cooperated with me. All MPs cooperated with me. All senior leaders have cooperated with me. May be one or two people gave statements here and there... But by and large in Congress, they've cooperated with me."

He pointed out that he had successfully completed five years in the CM's chair and done a lot of good work. Siddaramaiah also claimed to be unruffled by competition for the post.

"Today my five years have completed. On May 13, I finished a full five years... There are some people who have personal ambitions, who want to become the Chief Minister. I don't think that's wrong. I don't think that is bad. In democracy you need to have opportunities… I will never say they're wrong. In fact I have more affection for them. But for that, there shouldn't be some planning or criminal activities... Last time, I was made the Chief Minister. I have now finished five years. I have done a lot of good work. Everyone has cooperated with me. I want to thank everyone,” Siddaramaiah said.

He added: "There is no anti-incumbency anywhere. So I want to thank everyone."

This statement comes following Prime Minister Narendra Modi's campaign in Karnataka where he claimed that 'there is no place for Dalits and backward classes in the heart of the Congress.' When questioned about this, Siddaramaiah in an interview to Deccan Chronicle, had said that there was no debate within the Congress over who would be the next Chief Minister. He further went on to explain that Mallikarjun Kharge had himself negated that he was in race for the post and named Siddaramaiah as the next CM of Karnataka.

As far as the results on Tuesday are concerned, Siddaramaiah is confident of victory in both constituencies he is contesting from. "I will get a lead in both constituencies. Badami, I will definitely get a lead. Here (in Chamundeshwari) it may not be as big a lead as we expected, but I will definitely get a lead," he said.

Meanwhile, BJP’s Sadananda Gowda took a dig at Siddaramaiah’s Dalit CM remark, saying that his stance had now shifted due to his fear of losing the polls.

The Assembly Elections in Karnataka witnessed the highest voter turnout in the state in over 35 years. As the polling came to a close in Karnataka at 6 pm on Saturday, the Election Commission announced that 72.13% voters turned out across the state to vote.

Saturday’s poll percentage is a marginal though significant improvement from 2013, which recorded 71.45%. The highest voter turnout before 2013 was in 1978 – when the state witnessed a polling percentage of 71.90%.

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