Leader of Opposition completes four decades in politics

Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Assembly Siddaramaiah, a socialist who was part of the Janata Parivar, has completed four decades in politics.

The senior politician who has served as Deputy Chief Minister and Finance Minister started organising the backward classes and expanded it into a broad confederation of minorities, backward classes and Dalits (AHINDA).

Mr. Siddaramaiah spoke to The Hindu on his political career.

What has 40 years in politics taught you?

I grew in the socialist movement associating myself with the agitations for getting remunerative prices for farmers’ produce and compensation during drought, implementation of Kannada in administration, so that ordinary citizen could understand what the rulers are doing, and in the process I learnt democratic values and ideals. But, what shocks me now is that corruption and casteism, two things which are eating into vitals of democracy, have spread their tentacles and are visible everywhere. People have been made money-hungry and contesting elections is not possible for ordinary person nowadays with the result ideals and values have been given a go-by.

You were in several governments and presented seven budgets. Did you implement the proposals made in them?

As far as giving political reservation to OBCs is concerned, I have tried my best at the panchayat level, but without a Constitutional amendment, they could not be made MPs and MLAs. My demand is that even the miniscule OBCs should be accommodated and brought to mainstream through reservationI ordered caste census without which any effective programme for their welfare could not be taken up and released Rs. 2 crore for it. Even the Union government released Rs. 22 crore for the work, but the BJP government shelved it for five years.

Was the AHINDA movement affected after you joined the Congress?

Yes. The AHINDA comprised writers, artists and people from different avocations and they could not be organised by sitting in the Congress. I feel we can push some AHINDA agenda also when our party comes to power in the coming elections.

Do you have any programme to reduce corruption, tackle fundamentalism and inculcate scientific temper among the people?

This is possible by strictly adhering to constitutional governance and humanism¸ and morality should be the cornerstone of any political party to achieve this objective. How could we claim that we are a constitutionally governed state when we still practice ‘made snana’.

Bharatiya Janata Party leaders have challenged the Congress to announce its chief ministerial candidate.

This is not possible in our party and there has been a convention that the candidate for the post would be announced after the results are announced.

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