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August 12, 2017

High command worried over Siddaramaiah's 'caste politics'

DHNS

New Delhi, Aug 12: The Congress high command is worried over the possible “fallout” of caste politics overshadowing developmental agenda of the Siddaramaiah government as the state Assembly elections are a few months away.

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah’s perceived support for separate religion tag to the Lingayat community and his keeness to release a caste census report have not gone down well with the party top brass.

A section of Congress leaders from Karnataka have also urged the top brass that the party should not deviate from its developmental agenda and resort to caste politics as it may boomerang on the Congress.

While the party asked the chief minister not to go head with the release of caste census, the high command also cautioned him not to stretch too much on Lingayat-Veerashaiva row, apprehending that it may go against the party’s interest, a senior leader told DH.

Several pro-poor programmes of the Siddaramaiah government, including distribution of free rice, milk to school children, programmes for minorities and the most recent one of waiving farm loans, received kudos from people of the state. However, all these have faded from the public glare ever since Siddaramaiah said he is ready to recommend to the Centre to grant separate religion tag to the Lingayat, said a senior leader here.

“Despite the Congress’ position improving remarkably in the state over the past two to three months and workers being very enthusiastic to bring it back to power, the caste politics seems to be hurting the party’s prospects”, said the leader.

Some leaders from the Vokkaliga and the Lingayat communities have recently urged the high command to put on hold the release of the caste census report saying it would be against the interest of their communities. Even a section of Dalits, mainly followers of former Deputy Prime Minister the late Jagjivan Ram, has also opposed the report questioning its authenticity.

The caste census exercise will benefit a particular group of people in the state and not all communities, said a leader, who has been canvassing against the release of the report.

“The Congress never identified with any religion or caste. Ours is inclusive politics. Despite the BJP claiming that the Lingayats have been backing it in the previous elections, several of our Lingayat leaders have won”, said a leader.

High command worried over Siddaramaiah's 'caste politics'

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