If there is one thing that Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee president G. Parameshwara does not lack, it is educational qualification. An agricultural scientist, with a doctoral degree from an Australian university, he has the daunting task of proving himself politically.

After the results of the Assembly elections are announced on May 8, people will see whether he is equally adept at the rough and tumble of politics.

In an exclusive interview to The Hindu, he reiterated that the Congress, being a secular party, did not view caste or religion as a prerequisite for the top job. Assertions apart, he has had a tough time keeping his flock together in the face of dissidence over nomination of candidates for the elections. Excerpts:

Q. Why there was confusion and confrontation in the process of nominations?

A. There is no fool-proof system that satisfies everyone. We have done a good job in a transparent manner. The selection committee was well represented by all communities and regions, which was why it looked unwieldy for some including (the former chief minister) S.M. Krishna. The first list of 177 names had no problems. In the second list of 47 candidates, there was dissension for 27 seats.

Why can’t the party name a Dalit to the chief minister’s post?

To head a government, the leader should be above caste or religion. Only then is a stable and able administration possible. If there is a Dalit who fits the bill, he will surely be announced for that position. Such a decision is made by the high command after taking all our views. People have suffered under the BJP due to its corrupt rule. Therefore, whoever comes to that position should be a better person. Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh have stressed this point.

Your reaction to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s attack on the Nehru-Gandhi family.

Perhaps Mr. Modi does not understand the contribution of the Nehru family to the country. They were born rich but sacrificed their wealth. Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi sacrificed their lives. Does he know this?

Do you think the BJP should apologise to the people for having ministers charged with rape and watching porn in the Assembly?

Credibility of the House received a blow and even Supreme Court indicted the Speaker. The quality of legislators is diluted, but what shocks is that the BJP, which swears by Vivekananda and Bhagavad Gita did not behave. I am happy that its leaders have repented and said the party is cleansed after such elements had left.

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