INTERVIEW| Congress will increase reservation to 75 per cent: Siddaramaiah

The 17 per cent proposed internal reservation has been divided -- 6 per cent for SC-Left, 5.5 per cent for SC-Right, 4.5 per cent for Touchables and 1 per cent for others.

Published: 23rd April 2023 08:28 AM  |   Last Updated: 23rd April 2023 08:28 AM   |  A+A-

Senior Congress leader Siddaramaiah. (Photo | Express)

Senior Congress leader Siddaramaiah. (Photo | Express)

By Express News Service

In the run-up to the May 10 Assembly polls, senior Congress leader Siddaramaiah said that once the party comes to power, they will increase the overall reservation to 75 per cent to provide adequate quota to all deserving communities. “Why not increase the reservation to 75 per cent? All categories got reservations, including the economically weaker sections, then why do we need more for the general category,” asked the former chief minister during an interaction with  TNSE editors and staff. Excerpts: 

There are only a few days left for the polls. How does the situation look on the ground? 
The situation is in favour of Congress. That is because there is a strong anti-incumbency against the BJP government due to corruption, price rise and unemployment. They could not solve the problems of farmers, women and labourers. That’s why the people of Karnataka are against the BJP government. I have been in politics for the past 40 years and I can understand the pulse of the people. Now, they want to change the government. Wherever we go, people tell us that Congress will come to power this time. 

Congress has announced several schemes, but BJP claims it is impossible to implement them due to the size of the budget... 
We have announced the ‘Congress Guarantee’ scheme only after estimating the budget it requires. They may require around Rs 50,000 crore, while the size of the budget is Rs 3.10 lakh crore, which may go up to Rs. 3.30 lakh crore. We have promised to implement our manifesto announcements within five years and Congress guarantees within one year of coming to power. When the repayment of principal and interest is Rs 56,000 crore, can’t we provide Rs 50,000 crore for these schemes?  

Do you feel BJP fielding minister V Somanna against you in Varuna will make your victory difficult? 
It doesn’t matter who is the candidate against me as we have to face BJP and fight against the ideologies of BJP and RSS. In Varuna, I won with a 28,000 lead in 2008 and 31,000 in 2013. My son won with a 58,000 lead in 2018. This time too, I will win by a big margin. 

You claim there is a tacit understanding between BJP and JDS to defeat you... 
Why is JDS fielding Bharati Shankar, an ex-MLA from a reserved seat, in Varuna, which is a general seat? The intention is to divide the Scheduled cast votes. Even in 2018, BJP fielded a weak candidate against me in the Chamundeshwari constituency and he got hardly 3,000 votes. But the entire BJP votes got transferred to JDS. That’s why I said there is an understanding between BJP and JDS. 

Don’t you think there are enemies against you within your party? 
I don’t have any enemies at my party. They all are my comrades. 

Do you think Lingayats are in favour of Congress, considering the current scenario? 
Congress is a secular party voted by all communities and it is the only party that respects all communities. 

Your take on the possibility of AICC president Mallikrajun Kharge becoming the CM? 
Kharge made it very clear that he is not an aspirant. We are working to bring the party to power under a collective leadership and the newly elected MLAs will choose their leader. 

BJP has fielded new faces in many constituencies. Do you think this will help them overcome anti-incumbency?
I don’t think it will help BJP. In some constituencies they may have changed sitting MLAs, but there is strong anti-incumbency against BJP and its government in Karnataka. Whoever is changed, they cannot erase the misrule of the government and its corruption.  

If Congress comes to power, what stand will the party take on the alleged 40 per cent commission?
We will constitute a special commission and direct them to probe all these charges.

What is your prediction for the three parties?
According to me, Congress will win 130 to 150 seats, JDS may win 20 to 25 seats and BJP may get 55 to 60 seats.

Is ‘Operation Kamala,’ a real concern?
If we get 115 or 120 seats, they will try. But here, that question does not arise as we will get a minimum of 130 seats. It is Yediyurappa who initiated this Operation Kamala. Before that, there was no such practice in Karnataka. In the name of power and money, they may try it, but they cannot get the entire Congress. Even if they form such a government, do you think that government will survive?  

Will internal reservation given by BJP cause problems to Congress?
Even we wanted to give an internal reservation. But Bhovi, Korcha and other communities opposed it. So far, the Justice AJ Sadashiva commission report has not been placed on the floor of the Assembly. No discussion took place on the report. We have to take all stakeholders into confidence. But the BJP government has done so in a hurry. Reservation is now at 56 per cent, as the reservation for SC and ST communities has been enhanced. The 17 per cent proposed internal reservation has been divided -- 6 per cent for SC-Left, 5.5 per cent for SC-Right, 4.5 per cent for Touchables and 1 per cent for others. But the 17 per cent increased quota is not valid yet. Also, how can one remove the 4 per cent quota given to Muslims and put them in the Economically Weaker Section? Articles 15 and 16 of the Constitution say that socially and educationally backward should be given reservation. Muslims are socially and educationally backwards. But now reservation has been given to those who are socially forward (Brahmins). First, there is a need for an amendment to the Constitution. Is there any order by the court to abolish the 4 per cent reservation for Muslims? Vokkaligas had sought 12 per cent reservation based on their population and Lingayats wanted to be in the 2A category. But the government after leaving this, scrapped the 4 per cent reservation for Muslims. 

Does it mean, if your party comes to power, you will change the reservation policy?
At present, we have 56 per cent reservations with the EWS quota, it will be 66 per cent. Why not increase it to 75 per cent? All categories got reservation, including the economically weaker sections, then why do we need more for the general category? In Tamil Nadu, they made it 69 per cent. They have added it to the 9th Schedule.

Don’t you think merit will suffer if we increase it to 75 per cent?
How will it suffer? If a 10 per cent EWS quota is given to merit people, will others not suffer? Let us give reservations based on population. For those who are economically, socially and educationally backward, we will give reservations to them.

But this has to be passed in Parliament?
Yes, we will bring pressure to pass it in Parliament. If our government comes to power, we will pass it.

Can Siddaramiah sacrifice his CM post to Kharge if the Dalit CM issue arises?
If you ask me the same question in any form, my answer will be the same. We go by a democratic process as far as leadership is concerned. MLAs have to select their CM.

Is it possible to defeat Modi in 2024?
Why not? If all the opposition parties with a common agenda come together, it is possible to defeat BJP and Modi. BJP has not secured 60 or 70 per cent votes. They also have less than 50 per cent votes. 

This is your last election. If Congress comes to power and if you become CM how are you going to contribute to the state this time? 
I can tell you only after Congress comes to power and not before that.

Modi, Amit Shah and Yogi Adityanath will be campaigning extensively in the state…
Why did it not make a difference in Punjab and Himachal Pradesh? Why not in West Bengal? In a few places (Gujarat and UP), it might have happened given the existing political situation. The state issues get discussed in the Assembly polls, not national issues. The national issues are secondary.  

The coastal region is getting more communalised what are the challenges to tackling it? 
BJP has been trying to communalise society to polarise votes. Mangaluru and Udupi are being used as a laboratory of RSS. In spite of it, we won seven seats out of eight in the past (2013), including three out of five in Udupi. Last time, we won only one and they had seven. This time, there will be a change as the people are fed up with communal politics. The BJP state president suggested to his workers recently that they should not campaign on development but on love jihad. Will people accept them? Are hijab and halal issues that need to be raised? You (BJP) do not harm communal harmony by inciting people against each other and by breaking the hearts on communal issues. We are not against any language or religion or culture. Everyone has a right to practice any religion as ours is a plural state that is not restricted to one. As per our Constitution, we have accepted the plural state so that all can live in harmony.  

Will you reverse the anti-conversion and cow slaughter laws? 
There is scope for conversion as per Article 21 of the Constitution as there is a liberty to follow any religion. Citizens have the right to convert, but it should not happen by force. The anti-conversion law that they (BJP government) effected is a violation of Article 21. 

BJP has given 68 seats to Lingayats, though the community expected 65 tickets. But Congress has given fewer tickets to community representatives. What is your take?
Congress is different from BJP. We have given 51 seats compared to last time’s 47. We have followed social justice. We have given 14 seats to Kurubas, and they have given seven. They have not given a single seat to Muslims. Can we call it a secular party? In Mysuru, Kodagu, Hassan and Chamarajanagar, BJP too has not given more seats to Lingayats. Wherever Veerashaiva-Lingayats can win, we have given them tickets. We have given 15 tickets to minorities and two to Christians.

You had attacked Laxman Savadi for allegedly watching a porn video in the Assembly. Now, he has joined Congress. Has he become Mr clean? Has Congress become a washing machine? 
For that mistake, he has undergone a punishment. There is no greater punishment than repentance that he has expressed.  

BJP accuses Congress of Muslim appeasement? 
I will not do any appeasement politics. I love people from all castes and creeds. What is Muslim appeasement? Can speaking in their favour and advocating for their security, and justice be called appeasement? Will it become appeasement if we give programmes for their uplift? Doesn’t the community have many poor people? If one goes through the Sachar Committee report, one will come to know about their status as to what extent they have been backward in academics and employment, and how many are wealthy.  

What would be your diet in this poll season? What about your morning walks? 
Right now, I have stopped eating non-vegetarian food and I depend on vegetarian food and eggs until the polls are over. Again I will start eating non-vegetarian food since I am a born non-vegetarian. I stopped it because oily and spicy food may create health issues during my travels. Now, no time for morning walks. 


Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

  • Thyagaraju

    Dear sir I am unable to understand what are touchables? Smt Indira Gandhi already cut untouchable concept. its in force. But this man touched the unnecessary issue. One left
    5 months ago reply
flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp