Bengaluru: Obviously irked by persistent demands from various quarters, esp., those not belonging to the ruling party, seeking a Dalit leader be made the chief minister, Siddaramaiah said on Friday that he considered himself to be a Dalit.
He further said that the word Dalit did not connote any casteist tag, but it stood for the downtrodden, the exploited and the unlettered, either in terms of their faiths or lack of education.
He was speaking at a function to mark the inauguration of Ambedkar Bhavan, unveiling of Ambedkar statue and laying of foundation for a herbarium in Nanjangud in the district.
He added that he had successfully completed two years in office and was fully committed to social justice as propounded by Basavanna. It was for this reason that he had taken the oath as CM on Basava Jayanti.
Calling himself an advocate of social justice and a keen follower of Dr Ambedkar, he said that he was leading and running the government just following in letter and spirit the tenets and principles set out in the Constitution framed by Dr Ambedkar and others.
He detailed various projects and plans introduced by him to ensure justice to the depressed classes.
Demand and lobby
Political observers have expressed surprise at the way the lobbying for a Dalit chief minister has suddenly gained momentum. During the past CMs’ times, there was no such demand at all. The higher-ups in the Congress party have categorically stated on different occasions that currently there was no vacancy of a chief minister.
Recent demands came from Dalit organizations which are not affiliated to the Congress party. Elsewhere in the state, former Union minister M Veerappa Moily said in Mangaluru that the discussion on the need of a Dalit CM was needless. The row was created by those from outside the party. The Dalit leaders in the party should beware of such persons. Choice of a chief minister was an internal matter of the party and nobody need to interfere in it, he said.
Reacting strongly to the demand for a Dalit CM, minister Anjaneya, himself a Dalit, said that he, V Srinivasa Prasad and H C Mahadevappa, who were ministers in the cabinet were as good as second chief ministers. It was so because the CM had so much of faith in them and given them enough freedom in the sphere of their work, thus enabling them to strive for the betterment of the Dalits.