The Congress party is facing significant criticism following its decision to not appoint a Dalit as a deputy Chief Minister and the omission of an invitation to Mayawati, the leader of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in the oath taking ceremony of the new government at Bangluru on Saturday.
The move by the Congress high command has sparked discontent within the party, with concerns raised about the potential repercussions.
G. Parmeshwara, a prominent Dalit leader who previously served as the Deputy Chief Minister in the Congress-JDS government, expressed his dissatisfaction, stating that neglecting a Dalit for the position may harm the Congress party's prospects.
The party leadership, on Thursday, approved Siddaramaiah as the Chief Minister and D.K. Shivkumar as the Deputy Chief Minister. Siddaramaiah belongs to the Kuruba community of the Other Backward Classes, while D.K. Shivkumar is a wealthy businessman from the Vokkaliga community.
Parmeshwara emphasized the importance of considering the party's achievements in the recent elections. Notably, Congress Dalit candidates won 35 out of the 51 seats reserved for Dalits and even secured victories in two general seats.
He urged the party leadership to take these factors into account, warning that ignoring the aspirations and representation of Dalits could lead to negative reactions.
Although Parmeshwara conceded to the party's decision, he called for unity and a forward-looking approach, especially with the 2024 Lok Sabha elections on the horizon.
The Congress party's choice of not appointing a Dalit Deputy CM has raised concerns about its commitment to Dalit voters. The appointment of Mallikarjuna Kharge, a Dalit leader from the state, as the National President of the Party was seen as a positive step. However, critics argue that the omission of a Dalit Deputy Chief Minister may be interpreted as complacency towards Dalit voters.
Vishwanath Pal, the State President of the Bahujan Samaj Party, criticized the Congress, labeling it as anti-Dalit. He pointed out previous instances where the party fielded candidates against Dalit leader Babasaheb and broke away BSP MLAs in Rajasthan on two occasions.
According to Pal, the party's decision to exclude a Dalit as Deputy Chief Minister in the state does not come as a surprise.
Furthermore, the absence of an invitation to Mayawati, the leader of the BSP, for the oath-taking ceremony in Bangalore, Karnataka, has also raised eyebrows.
The invitation omission puts an end to speculations about a potential coalition between the Congress and the BSP.
In 2018, when the Congress formed a coalition government with the JD-S, Mayawati was invited, creating speculation about a grand coalition before the 2019 polls.
However, media reports indicate that Mayawati has not received an invitation for the upcoming ceremony.
The upcoming oath-taking ceremony is expected to be a display of the United Progressive Alliance's (UPA) strength.
While Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Telangana CM K. Chandrashekhar Rao have not received invitations, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Bihar CM Nitish Kumar are among the invitees. Mamata Banerjee is likely to skip the event due to prior commitments.
In addition to UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, representatives from all UPA coalition partners are expected to attend the ceremony. Notable invitees include NCP President Sharad Pawar and Tamil Nadu CM Stalin.
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