Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara triggered a political row in his state and within his party when he hinted that Dalits have been ignored by the Congress when it comes to the top job.
Addressing the Chalavadi community in Davangere, the Congress leader said that he was thrice denied the CM post because he belonged to the Dalit community.
“B Basavalingappa and KH Ranganath missed the CM post. Mallikarjun Kharge also couldn’t become CM. I missed it thrice. Somehow I was made Deputy CM,” he said referring to the three tallest Dalit leaders from the state.
While the late Basavalingappa was a senior Congress leader, KH Ranganath and Mallikarjun Kharge are former KPCC presidents. Kharge is currently the Congress leader in the Lok Sabha.
Reacting to Parameshwara’s comment, former Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said on Monday that he is unsure of why the Deputy CM gave the statement.
“It’s the Congress party which is taking care of Dalits and other neglected sections of society,” stressed Siddaramaiah.
“I don’t know in what context he made a statement like that. It’s better you ask him,” he was quoted as saying by ANI.
While speaking about discrimination against Dalits at the government level, Parameshwara said that even Dalit leaders have never been given a chance to be the Chief Minister.
“Even though reservation is facilitated, there has been injustice in promotions,” he alleged.
According to The New Indian Express, Parameshwara alleged that seven government officials had committed suicide after they were demoted.
“Our government will come out with rules next week to implement reservation in promotions, he added.
Chalavadi, a Scheduled Caste community, has a large presence in Belagavi, Hubballi-Dharwad, Vijayapura and Bidar districts.
Parameshwara, a former KPCC president, is the first Dalit to become Deputy CM of the state. He also served as Home Minister of the state for a brief period in the previous Congress government led by Siddaramaiah.
The Janata Dal (Secular), which is an ally of the Congress in the government and to which Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy belongs, is yet to comment on Parameshwara’s statement.