MYSURU: Chief Minister Siddaramaiah seems to have attended the state’s first Buddhist conference, a congregation of educated dalits held on Sunday, with two purposes in mind. To reach out to dalits and shed his ‘anti-dalit’ image, and to cosy up to Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge, who is said to be close to the Congress high command.
At the event, Siddaramaiah announced a `10-crore grant and 50 acres of land on lease for the construction of Nalanda Buddhist University and Ambedkar Research Centre at Jothigowdana Pura, Chamarajnagar.
The chief minister, known to have an Ahinda slant, also called upon dalits to spread the teachings of B R Ambedkar and Buddha and fight social evils like terrorism.
Siddarmaiah is aware that many dalits are disgruntled that their leader and KPCC president G Parameshwara was not given a plum post in the State Cabinet. Parameshwara was absent at the conference.
Siddaramaiah also appeared to want to make it clear that he had no differences with Kharge, now considered the eyes and ears of Sonia Gandhi in the state. Siddaramaiah and Kharge, a major Buddhism patron, came and left the event in the same helicopter.
By announcing a slew of sops for dalits, he also ensured that his dalit confidants like H C Mahadevappa, Srinivas Prasad, H Anjaneya and R Dhruvnarayan are kept in good humour.
‘Not Against Conversion’
The chief minister also said the government was not against conversion as the Constitution itself allows it. He added that his government would promote Buddhism which “propagates peace and love”.
According to political commentator Prof Muzaffar Assadi, Siddaramaiah exhibited his political maturity at the conference. He said the announcement of funds and land is a populist move and added that the attempt to cosy up to Kharge was ideal for his interests.
MP Dhruvnarayan said the Buddhist Conference had nothing to do with politics, but praised Siddaramaiah as the “chief minister of a responsible government who has assured all help for a good cause”.