‘The choice of the Chief Minister is left to high command’
BANGALORE: “In the Congress parlance, there is nothing like natural choice for the post of the Chief Minister, however popular, loyal or experienced one might be. He or she is selected by the party high command on the basis of the consensus among the newly elected MLAs”.
This was the stock reply of Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee president M. Mallikarjun Kharge during the interview with The Hindu, which wanted him to give a straight reply whether he was an aspirant to the coveted post, if his party was returned to power in the elections.
An eight-time MLA, who had handled all major portfolios such as Revenue, Education, Transport, Cooperation and Large Industries as well as the post of Deputy Leader of the Congress and Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Assembly for 37 years, Mr. Kharge had the humility to say that his dream was to see that all the promises in the party manifesto were implemented, if the people vote the party to power.
There is nothing wrong in aspiring for the big post, but, no leader should wreck the interest of the party or indulge in negative strategies to achieve the goal, Mr. Kharge added.
“Moreover, in the Congress, what we all say is that we all work together to bring the party to power and leave the rest to the party high command. We all will accept president Sonia Gandhi’s decision.”
Mr. Kharge defended the decision not to field any candidate in Shikaripur where the Samajwadi Party State unit president S. Bangarappa is facing the former Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The Congress, he said, could not be termed weak, just because it gave a seat each to the Communist Party of India, the Communist of Party of India (Marxist), the Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha and the Republican Party of India.
The KPCC president said that the Congress, unlike the other parties, had worked for the welfare of the people, especially the weaker sections and in all sectors, whether it was land reforms, creating infrastructure, higher education, law and order and protection of the minorities. It was the Nehru-Gandhi family, which sacrificed its members, but at no time, it had animosity towards anybody.
Ms. Gandhi and her daughter Priyanka Gandhi had the magnanimity in meeting and consoling those who assassinated Rajiv Gandhi.
Targettng all the governments led by the Janata Pariwar for instability and resultant bad governance in the State, Mr. Kharge said that it was the Congress which completed all its terms. He charged the 20-month rule by the Janata Dal (Secular) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government for providing political space to those who had money and muscle power at the cost of the welfare of the common people.
Mr. Kharge exuded confidence that large sections of people in all castes and communities were disgusted with the Janata Dal (Secular)-BJP misrule and were eager to give majority to the Congress in the elections. They know that the Congress was the most democratic and secular and could deliver the goods, he said.