Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy on Wednesday stirred a hornet's nest when he said Congress heavyweight Mallikarjun M Kharge should have been the Chief Minister of the state long ago. The CM said the Dalit leader has faced injustice and not got due recognition.
"Mallikarjun Kharge should have become the Chief Minister long ago. I feel that injustice has happened with him. I would like to clearly state that even I feel Kharge has not been given recognition for all the work he has done," the CM said in Chincholi, where he was campaigning for Congress bye-poll candidate Subhas Rathod.
Kharge is a nine-time MLA and two-time Lok Sabha MP from Kalaburagi. He had previously served as minister, both in state and central governments, and is the outgoing leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha. Within the Congress, Siddaramaiah and Kharge were considered rivals, especially for the CM’s post.
The statement from the CM comes at a time when the rift between the two coalition partners, especially between Siddaramaiah and AH Vishwanath, is quite apparent.
A section of Congress leaders are upset with JD(S) state chief AH Vishwanath’s statement against former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah. Vishwanath, responding to some statements made by Congress MLAs seeking the CM’s chair for Siddaramaiah again, had questioned the actions taken by Siddaramaiah during his tenure. The bitter war of words had also played out on Twitter and the CM reportedly had placated Siddaramaiah over phone.
It ended with a tweet, with Siddaramaiah claiming that he was bound by the “coalition dharma” and won’t respond to every jibe that comes his way. In a response, Vishwanath said that Siddaramaiah should ensure that his followers do not call for him to be the CM again.
Meanwhile, Deputy CM G Parameshwara, another Dalit leader, claimed that the CM’s statement was genuine and not meant to create a controversy.
“Such well-experienced and senior leaders like Mr. Kharge are very few in our party. Yet, many a times he missed opportunities,” he told reporters.