In a major twist to the high-intensity battle for the new government in Karnataka, incumbent Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said that he would welcome a Dalit as the CM of the state if the Congress took such a decision.
Speaking to reporters a day after the end of the polling in the state, the 69-year-old Congress leader said that the high command decision on making a Dalit leader the Chief Minister will be final and he will willingly adhere to it.
“I am not against anybody,” he stressed.
His announcement is being seen as Congress’ ground-laying work in case of a split verdict, which would make Janata Dal (Secular) the kingmaker.
JD(S) chief HD Deve Gowda is not fond of Siddaramaiah. In 2005, the former prime minister had sacked the Karnataka CM from the party after which Siddaramaiah joined the Congress.
Following the end of polls on Saturday, Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president and former chief minister G Parameshwara said that the decision on the Dalit chief minister matter will be taken by the party high command.
Parameshwara and Mallikarjun Kharge are two of the top Dalit leaders in Karnataka Congress.
At the same time, he said that he himself is a contender for the top post but would gladly accept if the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) elects Siddaramaiah.
Parameshwara expressed confidence that his party will win with a majority and ruled out the possibility of a hung assembly.
Earlier today, Siddaramaiah mocked at the predictions of a hung assembly by conductors of various exit polls calling them “entertainment”. He took to Twitter to urge Congress workers to take rest and assured them of a victory with a clear majority.
BS Yeddyurappa, the CM candidate for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), rejected Siddaramaiah’s claim stating that the Karnataka CM knows he is “losing miserably”.
“I am not telling that Siddaramaiah should believe in exit polls. He knows he is going to lose miserably. His party is not going to cross 70 seats,” Yeddyurappa said with a smile on his face.