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Cong leader’s veiled dig at Siddaramaiah sparks disquiet within party

Bengaluru: Senior Congress leader B K Hariprasad’s statements regarding ministerial and chief ministerial posts, along with his veiled dig at Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah seems to have created a sense of unease within the ruling party in Karnataka.

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The MLC, who is said to be sulking for sometime now over not being inducted into Karnataka cabinet, was speaking at a meeting of Ediga, Billava, Namdhari and Deevara communities on Friday.
While the Chief Minister did not comment on Hariprasad’s statements, a few of his cabinet colleagues seemed unsure about how to react.

“The community should be conscious. Whether I become a minister or not is a different question. I have already played a role in making five Chief Ministers in this country, whether it is Pondicherry (Puducherry) or Goa. In Jharkhand, I have done it alone. In Haryana and Punjab, I did it along with the AICC team,” Hariprasad said.

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Addressing the gathering, he claimed credit for making Bhupesh Baghel, a leader among the backward classes, as Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh.

“So I very well know how to make some Chief Minister or to ensure someone steps down from the post… I will not bow down or beg. Let me make it clear. If any injustice happens, ‘Koti Chennaya’ (legendary Tuluva twin heroes) have thought about how to face it. Doing politics in Bengaluru for 49 years is not a child’s game,” he added.

During the cabinet formation in May, there were reports that Hariprasd lost the race for a ministership after the Chief Minister vehemently opposed his inclusion.

Both Hariprasad, a former Leader of Opposition in the Council, and Siddaramaiah are OBCs — from Ediga and Kuruba community, respectively.

Stating that there is a need for Ediga, Billava, Namdhari and Deevara communities to think as to why they are not able to come forward politically, Hariprasad said, he feels that they have become victims to someone’s conspiracies.

“Some may say that Siddaramaiah and I belong to the backward class and should unite. With an intention that all of us should unite, we supported in 2013 (Siddaramaiah became CM for the first time),” he said.

He further said, “We are not among those who go before the Chief Minister or a Minister extending our hands (seeking favours), after supporting them. We work for the people and society, but don’t go asking for things with selfish motives.”

Noting that he only asked Siddaramaiah to provide Rs 5 crore to Koti Chennayya theme park at Karkala in Udupi district to which he responded positively, but later nothing came, Hariprasad remarked: “He cannot help me politically, rather I can help him politically.”

With an intention to set up ‘Gurupeetha’ in Mangaluru University, Hariprasad said he had given Rs 50 lakh under MPLADs scheme, but the building is still under construction, and “to that also there was assurance for financial help, but not even one paisa came”.

“How much was given to the community, I leave that issue to seers and leaders to see…backward classes doesn’t mean only one caste (seemingly referring to Kurubas to which CM belongs). All those castes that come under backward classes should get equal rights,” he said.

Hariprasad also pointed out that Ediga, Billava, Namdhari and Deevaras are losing out on political opportunities, as the tickets to seats dominated by these castes are either being given to Christian or Muslim candidates.

When asked about the Congress leader’s statement, Home Minister G Parameshwara, who seemed hesitant initially, said: “I don’t know in what context he has spoken… At some times, leaders express personal opinion.”

Planning and Statistics Minister D Sudhakar said, “He (Hariprasad) is a senior leader…there is no discontent in the party. He may have shared personal opinions. (Party) High command will see.”

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