Karnataka Home Minister G. Parameshwara resigned on Thursday to continue as the ruling Congress' state unit president and lead the party in the next state legislative assembly elections, due by May 2018.
"As directed by the party's high command, I have resigned from the cabinet to continue as Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president and prepare for the state assembly elections by next May," Parameshwara told reporters in Bengaluru.
The party high command comprising President Sonia Gandhi and Vice-President Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday directed Parameshwara to resign as minister and devote his time and energy to brace the party for the elections.
"I thank Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi for asking me to continue as KPCC president and steer the party under Chief Minister Siddaramaiah's leadership for the elections than being a minister," pointed out Parameshwara.
A member of the State Legislative Council (MLC) since July 1, 2014, the 65-year-old Dalit leader joined the cabinet on October 30, 2015 and continued to head the party's state unit even after his six-year tenure ended in October 2016.
"They (Sonia and Rahul) preferred me to continue as the KPCC president than being a minister in the cabinet. We have taken up the upcoming elections seriously, as the whole country is watching Karnataka, the only southern state where the Congress is in power," asserted Parameshwara.
All India Congress Committee (AICC) General Secretary Janardhan Dwivedi declared in New Delhi on Wednesday that the party would contest the next elections to the 225-member assembly under Siddaramaiah's leadership.
A former minister in the previous Congress government (1999-2004), Parameshwara was elected KPCC president in October 2010 and contested in the 2013 assembly elections from the Koratagere assembly segment in Tumakuru district but lost to Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) nominee Sudhakra Lal. Tumakuru is about 70km from Bengaluru.
"Though I was home minister for 19 months, I abolished the orderly system in the police department, recruited 23,000 constables and promoted 12,000 of them during my tenure," recalled Parameshwara.
The high command also appointed party lawmaker S.R. Patil as the party's state unit working president and state Energy Minister D.K. Shivakumar as chairman of the poll campaign committee.
"The objective of these appointments is on par with the party's policy of inclusiveness. Congress wants to give an opportunity to all communities. The idea is to fight the ensuing elections to retain power again," added Parameshwara.