Dalit leaders deprived of opportunities; why should I not be CM, asks Karnataka Home Minister Parameshwara

Parameshwara called on Dalits to raise their voice for their right and reminded them of the importance of the Constitution.


Published Jun 14, 2023 | 12:30 PMUpdatedJun 14, 2023 | 4:17 PM

Home Minister G Parameshwara adressing the launch of Shakti scheme in Tumkur

Karnataka Home Minister G Parameshwara has said several Dalit leaders, now and in the past, including him, were deprived of opportunities despite having all the abilities to become the chief minister, and called on the community to stay united.

He also spoke about him not being given credit for Congress’s victory in the 2013 Assembly polls, despite the party coming to power under his presidency, and pointed out that it is not the case now.

Speaking at an event on Tuesday, 13 June, he said, “The inferiority complex amongst us (Dalits) has to go — that’s the reason I openly say I will become chief minister. Why should I not?”

“KH Muniyappa (Dalit leader and minister) should also become one, why should he not? What is the shortcoming in the ability of Muniyappa or Parameshwara or Mahadevappa (minister) or Basavalingappa or N Rachaiah or Ranganath? (among veteran past leaders),” Parameshwara said.

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‘Use your votes’

Addressing the event in Bengaluru, he called on Dalits to raise their voice for their rights and use their vote in the right way and reminded them of the importance of the Constitution.

Parameshwara had openly expressed his chief ministerial ambitions in the past.

On Congress choosing Siddaramaiah for the coveted post after the poll results last month, he had cautioned the party’s central leadership that if a deputy chief minister post is not given to a Dalit, there would be adverse reactions, and it would spell trouble for the party.

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Longest serving KPCC chief

The 71-year-old Dalit leader was deputy chief minister during Congress-JD(S) coalition government led by HD Kumaraswamy. Parameshwara was also the longest-serving Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) chief (eight years).

He had lost the 2013 Assembly polls from Koratagere 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).

Noting that Congress came to power in 2013 after a gap of nine years, Parameshwara said he was then the KPCC president, and it was under his leadership that the party came to power, but no one gave him credit.

“No one spoke about it. I too did not speak about it. Contrary to that, today people give, and leaders claim, credit for the party coming to power (in 2023) under their leadership,” he said, without taking the names of Chief Minister Siddaramaiah or Deputy Chief Minister DK Shivakumar.

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‘Ignored certain communities’

Parameshwara also claimed that Congress lost the 2018 polls for neglecting certain communities. He did not name any community, but he seemed to indicate the Dalit community.

The 2018 Assembly poll defeat taught Congress a lesson, as to what would be the result of neglecting the communities that stood by it, he said.

Adding that’s the reason the Congress won in 2023 polls was that some leaders got together, and came up with a strategy to get back the support of communities that were neglected by the party.

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‘Divide and rule’

He recalled that the party leadership gave him the responsibility of celebrating Ambedkar Jayanti, while KH Muniyappa was given the responsibility of observing Babu Jagjivan Ram’s birthday celebrations, ahead of the Assembly polls.

Parameshwara said both of them discussed and decided not to accept it, as it was a continuation of the “divide and rule” against the Dalit community.

“We too understand, it was divided as Jagjivan Ram is Dalit-Left (the community to which Muniyappa belongs) and Ambedkar is Dalit-Right (to which Parameshwara belongs).”

“Look at the way we are seen,” he said, adding that it was then decided to organise an “Ikyatha Samavesha” including all SCs and STs in Chitradurga, which sent out a message to the state ahead of the polls.

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