Senior Congress leader G Parameshwara today cautioned the party’s central leadership that if a Deputy Chief Minister (DCM) post is not given to a Dalit, there would be adverse reaction and it would spell trouble for the party.
71-year-old G Parameshwara, a Dalit, was deputy chief minister during Congress-JD(S) coalition government led by HD Kumaraswamy. He was also the longest-serving Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee chief (eight years).
His veiled warning came hours after the Congress announced that Siddaramaiah would be chief minister and DK Shivakumar would be his only deputy.
To a question about Mr Shivakumar having allegedly put a condition to the leadership that he should be the only DCM, Mr Parameshwara said, “What he has said might be right in Mr Shivakumar’s point of view, but high command’s viewpoint should be different. High Command has to decide, we expect them (high command) to…”
On whether injustice has been done to Dalits by not giving a DCM post to the community, he said the people, especially the Dalit community, have huge expectations.
“Understanding these expectations, our leadership will have to make a decision. If it doesn’t happen, naturally there will be reactions for it. There is no need for me to say it. Instead of realising it later, if they rectify it now it will be better. Or else it may cause trouble for the party. I would like to tell them to understand it,” Mr Parameshwara said.
He said he was an aspirant for both the posts of CM and DCM.
“I was both chief minister and deputy chief minister aspirant but now we have to abide by the decision of the high command, so let’s see what they will do in the days to come. For now they have made announcements about the two, we will have to wait and see how they will do justice during the cabinet expansion,” he said.
Speaking to reporters here, he said, “The high command has announced CM and DCM. Siddaramaiah is becoming CM for the second time from our party, we expect him to provide good administration. Expectations of people are huge on us because of the promise of good administration in our manifesto. I welcome the decision and expect them to take all of us into confidence in giving good administration.”
Mr Parameshwara, who represents Koratagere in Tumakuru district, had lost the 2013 assembly polls, when he was KPCC president. He was a contender for the chief minister’s post then, but as he was defeated, he was made an MLC and a minister in the Siddaramaiah government (2013-2018).
Responding to a question about “none of them” (Dalits) having asked for the DCM post with a strong voice, Mr Parameshwara said a strong voice doesn’t mean shouting with a demand.
“We have asked (for posts)…I hope the high command will pay attention to it, as people have voted for us and have contributed to Congress coming to power. We have to keep this in mind and move ahead,” he said.
Earlier in the day, before Congress’s official announcement naming Mr Siddaramaiah and Mr Shivakumar as Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister, respectively, Mr Parameshwara in response to a question on whether he would ask for a DCM post, said, “What is there to ask? They should give. As I was DCM earlier, I expect them to give. Let’s see…”
Objecting to Mr Shivakumar’s alleged demand that he alone should be Deputy Chief Minister, he said, “One person alone should be in power (and) others should not be is not a right stand. Everyone has contributed towards the party coming to power. All communities have contributed, and naturally, justice should be done to them.”
Pointing out that Dalits, Lingayats, and minorities have strongly stood by the Congress party in the polls, he said the Congress has won in 35 out of 51 Dalit seats.
“Along with that, in two general seats the community candidates have won, so it is totally 37. The Dalit votes have made an impact in several other segments,” he said.
In the May 10 elections to the 224-member Assembly, the Congress scored an emphatic victory by bagging 135 seats, while the ruling BJP and former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda-led Janata Dal (Secular) secured 66 and 19 seats respectively.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)