Dalit organisations have condemned the Congress’ decision to choose Siddaramaiah for the Chief Minister’s post “overlooking” the candidature of Union Minister M. Mallikarjun Kharge.

“If this is not injustice to the Dalits, what else is” questioned Maruti Bouddhe, leader of the Dalit Sangharsh Samiti.

He said the Congress had announced Mr. Siddaramaiah’s name not because he was a better administrator than Mr. Kharge, but because he was aggressive unlike Mr. Kharge. He said Mr. Kharge’s four decades in public life was blemishless. Mr. Bouddhe also listed Mr. Kharge’s achievements as Union Labour Minister.

Vithaldas Pyage, Dalit ideologue and State executive council member of the Chalawadi Mahasabha said: “Leaders of all major communities have become Chief Ministers. There have been Brahmins, Vokkaligas, Lingayats and backward class members. But the State was yet to have a Chief Minister belonging to the Scheduled Caste. The Congress should have taken this into consideration.”

After the Vokkaligas and Lingayats, Kurubas were the most powerful in the State. They were powerful enough to pressurise other legislators to choose Mr. Siddaramaiah. However, the Dalits had no such clout. They don’t have financial resources or bargaining power like the Kurubas. That was where Mr. Kharge lost out, Prof. Pyage said.

According to him, Mr. Kharge’s appointment as Chief Minister would have been the best message that the Congress could have sent out to the country.