Karnataka Minister Satish Jarkiholi on Monday said there is a demand from all communities, including Dalits, to make one of their own leaders as the Chief Minister, but the Congress high command will have to take a final call on this.
The leader from Valmiki (ST) community also tried to downplay the statement from his community seer to see him as the CM and said it’s an old issue and such a demand has been made in the past too at various events and forums.
”There is nothing new in it, Dalit CM demand was raised in 2013 too. The issue was raised repeatedly and it ran for many days during the five years then, but the picture didn’t get released, such is the situation,” the PWD Minister, who is also Working President of Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee, told reporters in response to a question.
Asked as to ”when the picture may get released” according to him, he replied, ”we will have to wait and see. In 2008 too there was demand for Dalit CM with Kharge ji (Mallikarjun Kharge) as contender, but he did not get a chance, G Parameshwara (now Home Minister) was party president for eight years and became DCM, but he too did not get a chance to become CM.” Noting that there is demand from the Dalit community to have a CM from their community, the Minister said it is for the party to decide, and the party’s decision is final on the issue.
Asked whether it can happen after two-and-half years of this government, he said, ”it’s not in our hands. There is a high command, CM, Dy CM and party president you have to ask at their level, I cannot say. They can give clarity on it, let’s wait and see.” A recent dinner meeting at Parameshwara’s residence, with Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, Jarkiholi and Minister H C Mahadevappa in attendance, had triggered rumours that Parameshwara could be in the race to be CM in the event of a change of guard.
This meeting had gained significance amid claims and counter claims within the Congress party about the chief minister being changed. There is Siddaramaiah may have to make way for Deputy Chief Minister and state party president D K Shivakumar after two-and-half years of this dispensation.
To a query about Valmiki Gurupeeta seer Prasannananda Swamiji’s demand that Satish Jarkiholi should become CM, the Minister said, ”Swamiji has been saying this since the beginning, even before we came to power, there is nothing new in this. At the community forums the issue comes up, it is an old issue, nothing new.” Questioned whether he was in the race to become CM, he said there is such a demand from all communities — Dalits, Lingayats, Vokkaligas — for their community leader to become CM, similarly there is demand for him to be made the Chief Minister, and there is nothing special in it.
Further, he said he could not attend the recent breakfast meeting for Ministers called by the CM as he was unwell and added that there is no need to attach any other motives to it.
He also welcomed the instructions given at the meeting not to make statements on leadership change, and said, ”No one should speak out on internal matters of the party.” Jarkiholi, who was said to be miffed over some developments in the party and the government, had reportedly planned a trip to Dubai along with 50 former and current legislators, which is now said to be put on hold after high command’s intervention.
On his proposed tour with MLAs and leaders and whether he was emerging as the third power centre of the state Congress, Jarkiholi said, ”Where are the three? There is only one power centre for us — our high command in Delhi. High command is the only power centre in Congress.” If like-minded people meet it cannot be called a group, he said. ”Such meetings happen, there is nothing new, it happens in all parties. So, such meets might have happened and may continue to happen. It cannot be projected as groupism or anti-party activity.” For now there is no tour, let’s see when opportunity comes, the Minister said, ”we will bring it to the notice of the leadership.” Responding to his earlier statement that his patience should not be considered his weakness, Jarkiholi said, ”There is nothing for now — there is a ceasefire. For now things are smooth, we will have work and focus on development. The government will give priority to it.” Claiming that his idea is that only those who speak out should not get prominence in politics, he said, ”there are those who don’t speak much, they too have capacity, with this intention I had said. Only those coming on TV are not leaders, others too have ideas, some may have practical knowledge, others will have theoretical knowledge, they should be balanced.” Regarding the caste census report which is expected to be submitted to the government later this month, and opposition from some quarters to it, Jarkiholi said speaking in favour or against it at this stage is not right, as contents of it are still not known. ”Let’s wait… It has to come before the cabinet and discussed, there are a lot of steps. It cannot be accepted immediately, it has to be first looked into. After the cabinet decides, it will have to go before both the houses of legislature for discussion, where there will be an opportunity to raise issues… if there are flaws we can redo it, if not it can be accepted,” he said.
Reacting to PM Narendra Modi’s statement during election campaign in Madhya Pradesh that there is no clarity as to how long Siddaramaiah will be CM, and there is competition between CM and Dy CM over ”looting” the state, Jarkiholi said making politically motivated allegations at election rallies is easy, but proving them is difficult.
”There is nothing new in it, such allegations and counter allegations are natural for a political party. During elections in other state’s issues are raised… He (PM) might have said it for political reasons…Will he or his party accept our allegations? Will they (BJP) accept our 40 per cent Pay CM charge? — no.”