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Fine with Dalit chief minsiter if Congress says so: Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah | India News

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MYSURU/BENGALURU: A day after exit polls predicted a hung assembly in Karnataka, chief minister Siddaramaiah created ripples by stating that he was ready to step aside if the party leadership wished to replace him with a Dalit.

In the rival camp, BJP’s CM candidate, B S Yeddyurappa, announced that he would leave for New Delhi on Tuesday to consult PM Narendra Modi and party president Amit Shah on the time for his swearing-in on Wednesday.

He trashed exit poll findings and said BJP would get 125-130 seats. “I will give it in writing. BJP is winning with an absolute majority,” said Yeddyurappa. Shah also said in Goa that BJP would form the government in Karnataka.

The forecast of a fractured verdict has raised the possibility of the Janata Dal (S) garnering enough seats for H D Deve Gowda to play king-maker.

Siddaramaiah’s statement triggered speculation that Congress is anticipating a fractured verdict and is playing the Dalit card to negotiate a post-poll tie up with the JD(S). Siddaramaiah, however, clarified that elected MLAs and the party high command should decide on choosing a Dalit CM. “If the high command says they will make a Dalit the CM, I will tell them to go ahead. I am not against anybody. But you see, MLAs also have to give their opinion. No one can force… the high command also has to agree to that. Forcefully making someone a CM is difficult. You can’t run a government like that,” Siddaramaiah told reporters in Mysuru. He said the high command could not force anyone to become CM if he wasn’t popular among the legislators as it would lead to dissidence. Siddaramaiah’s statement also comes in the backdrop of PM Modi’s jibe during campaigning that the Congress has no place for Dalits and backward class leaders, citing the example of senior leader in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun M Kharge.

Kharge is seen as an obvious choice of the party high command if it has to decide on a Dalit CM in the event of a Congress-JD(S) alliance. KPCC chief G Parameshwara is also another potential candidate given the rapport he shares with JD(S) supremo and former PM HD Deve Gowda.

Siddaramaiah, however, dismissed exit poll reports of a hung assembly, saying “it was good entertainment”. The CM said he was confident of Congress getting a majority, and he would continue for a second term.

Asked whether he felt threatened by competition for the CM’s post ahead of poll results, he said: “In any party, there will be people with ambitions of becoming CM. There is nothing wrong in that. But people shouldn’t resort to wicked means to reach that post.”

Reacting to Siddaramaiah’s statement about a Dalit CM, Kharge said he would not be impressed if the party offers him the CM post or any other position just because he is a Dalit. Welcoming the CM’s statement, Parameshwara said he has no role to play in becoming or picking the CM because the Congress legislature party will finally choose the CM. Union minister DV Sadananda Gowda took a dig at Siddaramaiah’s Dalit CM remark, saying he has changed his stand fearing losing the polls.

Updated: May 14, 2018 — 3:02 am

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