Reiterating his pitch for three more Deputy Chief Ministers in Karnataka, Cooperation Minister K N Rajanna on Wednesday said there is nothing wrong with what he has proposed, as it keeps in mind the Congress party’s interests in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls. It is not based on anyone’s instigation, he clarified.
Pushing for Deputy Chief Minister posts to be given to leaders from Veerashaiva-Lingayat, SC/ST and minority communities, he rubbished talks that Chief Minister Siddaramaiah had asked him to float such an idea.
The minister had first spoken about it on September 16, and said he would discuss it with the Congress high command.
”Three more DCMs I have suggested are based on caste or community, I’m unable to understand what’s wrong with it? I have urged the high command in this regard in the interest of the party. If the high command feels it is right they will implement it, if they feel it is not right they will leave it, there is nothing wrong in it,” Rajanna said.
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Speaking to reporters, he said, ”According to some media reports, my statements proposing three more DCMs are based on what Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has asked me to say. Neither have I met Siddaramaiah on this, nor have I proposed it before him. There has been no discussion with him on this.” Currently, D K Shivakumar from the Vokkaliga community is the only Deputy Chief Minister in the Siddaramaiah-led cabinet. He is also the state Congress President.
A section of the Congress is said to be of the opinion that Rajanna’s statement was part of a plan by Siddaramaiah’s camp to keep Shivakumar in check, amid talks that he might seek the CM post after two-and-half years of this government’s tenure, and to counter his influence both in the government and the party.
Clarifying that his suggestions for three more DCMs are not aimed at bringing down the importance of Shivakumar in government, as being claimed, the minister said, ”Such claims are far from the truth.
”Upcoming Lok Sabha polls are important for the state, country and this government. We (Congress) will have to win more seats in Karnataka. If we win less seats they (BJP) will come up with slogans asking us to resign for losing the mandate of the people…there is need for us to win more LS seats, for which I have shared three more DCMs plan,” he said adding that it is not aimed at glorifying or condemning someone or on the basis of someone’s instigation.
”If DCMs are made one each from Veerashaiva, Minority and SC/ST community, we will get more support than what we have now. This is what I have suggested. I have not said who should be made DCM, I have also clarified that I’m not an aspirant at all,” he said.
It was said that Shivakumar being the only DCM was one among the commitments which the Congress leadership made to Shivakumar, while convincing him to give up his claim for the CM post and to take up the role of Deputy Chief Minister at the time of formation of the Congress government in Karnataka.
In response to a question, Rajanna said he wasn’t aware of any decision about having Shivakumar as the only DCM.
”No one has told me about it. If I was aware, I wouldn’t have proposed what I have. On something we don’t know, how can I guess…” he said.
Asked as to what extent he is ready to go regarding the three DCMs demand, the minister said politically he is ready to take challenges and won’t shed his responsibility, but on this issue, he will try to convince the high command. ”Final decision is left to them.” With voices from within his cabinet pitching for the appointment of three more DCMs in the state, CM Siddaramaiah on Sunday said the high command would decide on it ultimately, and that he would comply with the decision.
Deputy Chief Minister Shivakumar on his part on Monday said that CM Siddaramaiah must respond to Rajanna’s demand to create three more DCM posts, as it was CM who appointed him and other ministers.
Stating that he has not discussed this with Shivakumar, as he was busy with Cauvery and other issues, Rajanna responding to the DCM’s statement said, ”He (Shivakumar) has shared his opinion (that CM should respond). Neither have I consented nor am I opposed to his opinion.”