Congress, BJP spar over ex-CM’s statement about Dalit leaders


Former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah’s remarks on Dalit leaders have sparked off a heated exchange of words between BJP and Congress leaders and they continue to question each others’ commitments towards the welfare of Dalits.

On Saturday, Congress leaders slammed BJP leaders for “shedding crocodile tears” for Dalits for vote bank politics by spearheading a propaganda against Mr. Siddaramaiah and branding him as an anti-Dalit. The Congress held a demonstration in Mysuru against the BJP for “conspiring against Mr. Siddaramaiah by misrepresenting his remarks and misleading the community”.

During bypolls

The BJP leaders have demanded an apology from Mr. Siddaramaiah for his alleged remark that Dalit leaders had joined the BJP to “earn a livelihood”. Mr. Siddaramaiah, in response, said that his remarks while addressing a meeting of Dalit community members during the campaign for byelections in Sindgi had been misrepresented.

His statement that a few Dalit leaders had joined the BJP to serve their selfish ends had been deliberately twisted by the BJP to mislead the community, he said.

BJP national general secretary and MLA C.T. Ravi questioned Mr. Siddaramaiah’s commitment towards Dalits and said many leaders such as Minister Govind Karjol and MP Ramesh Jigajinagi joined the BJP when the party was out of power and continued their commitment towards upliftment of the underprivileged people.

Comparision of schemes

KPCC working president Ramalinga Reddy and former Minister R.B. Thimmapur held a press conference and provided comparison of welfare programmes launched during the Siddaramaiah-led Government and the BJP Government and claimed that the BJP leaders had neglected Dalits and this was revealed in the release of small amounts to fund schemes.

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While the Siddaramaiah-led Government spent ₹88,395 crore on welfare of Dalits during 2013-18, the BJP Government incurred expenditure of merely ₹23,261 crore during 2008-13. While the BJP Government set up 196 residential schools, the Congress Government established 270 schools during the period, Mr. Reddy claimed.

The BJP Government had rendered a blow to contractors of SC/ST communities by amending the Karnataka Transparency in Public Procurements Act (KTPPA), the Congress leaders alleged. The Siddaramaiah-led Government provided 50% quota for SC/ST contractors in construction works of up to ₹1 lakh, they said.

Earlier ‘silence’

At Mysuru, KPCC former working president R. Dhruvanarayan sought to know why the Dalit leaders in the BJP did not speak out when the saffron party leaders like Ananthkumar Hegde and others talked about amending the Constitution.

BJP MLC N. Ravi Kumar and State BJP SC Morcha president Chalavadi Narayanaswamy alleged that Mr. Siddaramaiah had sidelined Dalit leaders when in power. The Congress had mastered the art of “using and dumping” Dalits, they alleged.

At Kalaburagi, BJP State unit spokesperson and MLA for Sedam Rajkumar Patil Telkur questioned whether the former had switched parties for livelihood.



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Sagar Biswas

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