TUMAKURU: Under attack from Dalit organisations over his remark that party leader C M Ibrahim can be made the chief minister if the party comes to power, senior JD(S) leader and former CM H D Kumaraswamy said that he would not hesitate to make a Dalit the chief minister.
He made the statement at the party’s ‘Pancharatna’ campaign in Tumakuru, which is also the home turf of veteran Congress leader Dr G Parameshwara, who is also a Dalit. Kumaraswamy has been facing the ire of a section of Dalits who staged a protest against him at some places over his reported statement, "Why cannot C M Ibrahim become the chief minister? Is he untouchable’?"
“I have not committed any crime. Even Congress leader Siddaramaiah had made such a statement but why are people targeting only me over the Dalit issue”, he questioned, adding that he had great concern for the community.
“Since the BJP came to power at the Centre, Muslims are being treated differently and a hate campaign has been launched against them. Remarks like ‘go to Pakistan’ have often been reported. It was in this context that I made the statement (about Ibrahim)”, he clarified at the Dibburu area.
When asked whether the JD(S) could make a Dalit the CM, he replied, “Why not. I have been trying to build the party keeping in view its survival for the next 25 years. I have kept all options open, including making a Dalit the CM, if the party comes to power. We will follow the advice of my father H D Deve Gowda who is known for ensuring social justice”.
It may be noted here that Deve Gowda had favoured AICC president Mallikarjuna Kharge, a Dalit stalwart, for the CM’s post when the JD(S) had formed the government in alliance with the Congress party in the state.
Kumaraswamy also recalled that it was Deve Gowda who made an educated Dalit the president of the erstwhile Zilla Parishad (ZP) of Hassan district in the 80s when there was no reservation for that post. “At that time, H D Revanna had won the ZP seat by a record margin of 10,000 votes. But, Deve Gowda picked a MA post-graduate Dalit for the post,” he said.