Months after the Congress faced a demand for a Dalit chief minister from within its own ranks, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah is now facing what many think is an inappropriate demand from BS Yeddyurappa.
BJP state president and former chief minister Yeddyurappa has said that Siddaramaiah should appoint a Dalit IAS officer as the next Chief Secretary of the state. He threw his weight behind K Ratnaprabha, who currently holds the post of Additional Chief Secretary.
“It is not enough if the government merely declares that it is pro Dalits and backward classes. If it wants to prove that it has concern for Dalits, it must appoint only K Ratnaprabha as the Chief Secretary,” Yeddyurappa said on Sunday, addressing a meeting of the state Mahila Morcha at the party office in Bengaluru.
He claimed that the Congress government was attempting her to deprive her of the post for political reasons even though she was eligible in terms of both seniority and experience.
Congress Working President Dinesh Gundu Rao told The News Minute that Yeddyurappa’s remarks were a “cheap potshot” at the Congress and the first time that he had heard of a leader of the opposition, that too a former chief minister, making such a demand.
“The appointment of the chief secretary is a prerogative of the government. Why should he interfere? The government will appoint a suitable person based on eligibility and seniority. To use the caste as a criteria to gain some capital, is despicable.”
Dinesh said that the Congress need not learn any lessons from the BJP on the question of social inclusion. “The BJP has hardly given any space to leaders from the backward classes.”
The current Chief Secretary Arvind Jadhav was due to retire at the end of June, but was given an extension of three months which is due to end in September. The state government was recently embarrassed by allegations that Jadhav facilitated land grab for his mother on the outskirts of Bengaluru.
Currently, Ratnaprabha and fellow Additional Chief Secretary SK Pattanayak are in the race for the post along with senior bureaucrat Subhash Chandra Khuntia, who is away on central deputation.
The New Indian Express reported that the government had made up its mind to appoint Khuntia and will write to the union Department of Training and Personnel, requesting that Khuntia be relieved of his duties to take up the post in the state government.
Khuntia is set to retire in November 2017, while Ratnaprabha will do so in March 2018.