BENGALURU : Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly Siddaramaiah, who had led an aggressive Congress campaign in the recent Hanagal and Sindagi bypolls, is trying to project himself to the party high command as the "undisputed" AHINDA (Kannada acronym for minorities, backward classes and Dalits) leader, by projecting the bypoll results in his favour.
While Congress candidate Srinivas V Mane won in Hanagal, BJP's Ramesh Bhusanur won Sindagi. According to sources, Siddaramaiah met AICC president Sonia Gandhi three weeks before the bypolls and had assured her of a win for the party, especially in Hanagal, as Mane was his choice of candidate. "He was confident of various factors, including internal bickering in the BJP, that could help the Congress," a party source told The New Indian Express.
As soon as results were declared on November 2, Siddaramaiah was quick to take credit for the party’s victory in Hanagal. He reportedly dialled AICC general secretary and Karnataka affairs in-charge Randeep Surjewala and discussed the results, besides several other political developments.
"The backward classes, SCs, STs and Muslims by and large voted for the Congress in Hanagal, where Siddaramaiah campaigned intensely. He passed on this message to the high command through Surjewala," the source said.
The BJP, which got wind of it, termed Siddaramaiah an opportunist and a day later, the party's SC wing held agitations across Karnataka for his purported remarks on SCs. Reacting quickly, Siddaramaiah, in a series of tweets, cornered the BJP, saying he had implemented several schemes for SCs during his tenure as chief minister.
"Loans up to Rs 10 crore at 4 per cent interest were extended to SC/ST entrepreneurs. Loans worth Rs 908 crore were provided, benefiting 1,597 entrepreneurs. This is our achievement. What is the BJP's?" he questioned.
It may be recalled that AHINDA conventions ahead of the 2013 Assembly elections had catapulted Siddaramaiah as a leader of the masses, and helped him occupy the CM's chair. But a section of SCs turned hostile as he allegedly worked towards the defeat of former deputy CM Dr G Parameshwara from Koratagere, and also removed V Srinivasa Prasad from his cabinet. "Siddaramaiah paid the price for it as he lost from Chamundeshwari in 2018. He managed to win Badami by a narrow margin," a Congress leader said.
"It was the most backward communities (MBCs) that helped him win in Badami, and not just Kurubas. He let them down by not giving them representation in the cabinet when he was CM," an AHINDA leader alleged. "It is difficult for him to emerge again as an AHINDA leader unless he takes the 49.5 per cent MBCs, apart from 6.5 per cent Kurubas into confidence," the leader added.
But KPCC president DK Shivakumar, who has realised the importance of MBCs, has been trying to impress upon them that he has given former Backward Classes Commission chairman CS Dwarakanath the work of organising them for the Congress, ahead of the 2023 Assembly elections.