‘Siddaramaiah is a visionary leader; why can’t he be made PM?’ asks VCK chief Thirumavalavan

VCK's award recognising Siddaramaiah's work comes as a boost to his image at a time when he is in a race to be the Congress' CM candidate.

ByShilpa Nair

Published Aug 01, 2022 | 8:41 PMUpdatedAug 01, 2022 | 8:41 PM

Siddaramaiah Ambedkar award VCK

For Siddaramaiah, former Karnataka chief minister and the current Leader of Opposition in the state assembly, his recent trip to Chennai turned out to be a shot in the arm ahead of the grand celebrations that have been planned for his 75th birthday on 3 August, an event that is expected to be loaded with political messaging ahead of the Karnataka assembly elections.

Not only was the Congress leader given the “Ambedkar Sudar” award by the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) — a party that fights caste discrimination, and is an ally of the ruling DMK in Tamil Nadu — on 30 July during an event in Chennai, but his name was also taken by VCK chief and MP Thol Thirumavalavan as someone who could be the prime minister of India.

“Why shouldn’t Siddaramaiah be made the prime minister? If he is made the PM, Sanatana forces will not be able to rear their heads. He is a visionary leader rooted in ideology,” Thirumavalavan said at the award function, while highlighting the former chief minister’s contributions in the upliftment of Dalits and other marginalised sections.

‘A visionary leader’

Clarifying that he does not intend to create a controversy by making such a statement, Thirumavalavan added that the country needs a “visionary leader” to combat the Sanatana forces.

“This is the context for why I’m making these remarks, not because there aren’t other leaders in the Congress who could become PM,” the VCK chief clarified.

Meanwhile, Siddaramaiah used the stage to reach out to the marginalised communities, and hit out at the BJP.

Beginning his speech by glorifying Dr BR Ambedkar and Periyar, the Congress septuagenarian accused the BJP of not being on the side of social justice and equality.

“Today Dalits are being targeted for skinning dead cattle or eating beef or riding a horse or growing a moustache. Is this humanity? Data clearly says that attacks on Dalits have increased after the BJP came to power,” Siddaramaiah said.

Siddaramaiah Stalin

Former Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah called on Tamil Nadu CM MK Stalin during his visit to Chennai. Credit: Siddaramaiah/ Twitter

Apart from the VCK event, Siddaramaiah also called on Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin at the DMK party office as a “courtesy visit” while he was in Chennai. During the meeting, he was gifted “A Dravidian Journey”, a book authored by Dr J Jeyaranjan.

After the meeting, Siddaramaiah told reporters that the strong Dravidian movement in Tamil Nadu helped the state’s leaders to build a fort which the communal forces were unable to penetrate.

“They entered Karnataka. We are trying to defeat the communal RSS and the BJP in the coming election. I hope we will defeat them,” he was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.

The Congress leader paid his respects to Dravidian icon Periyar by visiting his memorial and museum in Chennai along with Dravidar Kazhagam president Prof K Veeramani.

What the award and optics mean for Siddaramaiah

VCK’s award recognising Siddaramaiah’s work for the welfare of backward classes, Dalits and minorities comes as a boost to his image, especially at a time he is engaged in a race to be the Congress’ chief ministerial candidate.

“He didn’t want to go to the event initially, but legislators close to him insisted that he should accept the award, especially given its timing,” a close aide of Siddaramaiah told South First.

The “timing”, as the aide pointed out, could not have been better for Siddaramaiah. At a time when his own party colleagues are looking to edge him out of the race to be Congress chief ministerial candidate in the upcoming assembly polls, VCK’s award comes as an endorsement to his “social justice” ideology.

Siddaramaiah Periyar

Picture from Congress leader Siddaramaiah’s visit to Periyar memorial in Chennai. Credit: Siddaramaiah/ Twitter

Being the lone leader in the Congress in Karnataka to lash out against Hindutva outfits during the hijab row and campaigns against Muslims in the state, Siddaramaiah had been accused by those within the party of putting Congress’ poll prospects in danger.

With his visit to the Periyar memorial in Tamil Nadu, the backward classes leader seems to have cemented his stance on the issue — he will take on Hindutva majoritarianism irrespective of whether others in the party approve of it or not.

Siddaramaiah’s meeting with Chief Minister Stalin, also the leader of DMK and an ally of the Congress, too made for the perfect photo opportunity to establish his standing outside Karnataka among Congress allies.

With inputs from Anusha Ravi Sood.