‘Not allies’: Siddaramaiah criticises DK Shivakumar for holding JD(S) flag
The reference was to the rally to welcome Shivakumar back to Bengaluru from Delhi, where he had been in the custody of the Enforcement Directorate for 50 days in connection with a money laundering case.Updated: Oct 29, 2019 00:01 IST
A video of Congress leader Siddaramaiah and a party colleague was at the centre of a controversy after he appeared to criticise former Karnataka minister DK Shivakumar for holding the flag of the Janata Dal (Secular) at a rally on Saturday.
The reference was to the rally to welcome Shivakumar back to Bengaluru from Delhi, where he had been in the custody of the Enforcement Directorate for 50 days in connection with a money laundering case.
Many JD(S) workers had gathered at the Bengaluru airport to welcome the Congress’ Vokkaliga leader and at one point he was seen holding a JD(S) flag.
JD(S) leader HD Kumaraswamy had greeted Shivakumar at the airport much before other Congress leaders.
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The purported conversation in the video, which went viral on social media platforms, was between Siddaramaiah and the party colleague.
“What does it mean when DK Shivakumar holds the JD(S) flag?” the second man is heard asking in the video.
Siddaramaiah then purportedly says, “What can I say if he holds the JD(S) and Congress flags? I have said that we have not allied with them.”
The Congress and JD(S) had ruled the state in an alliance for 14 months after the assembly elections last year.
The coalition was defeated in a floor test in July and since then leaders from both the parties have exchanged barbs, with the family of former prime minister HD Deve Gowda reserving their ire for Siddaramaiah in particular.
Responding to Siddaramaiah’s statement, Shivakumar said senior leaders were all with him and that it was only friendly advice.
“Senior leaders give advice, all party leaders are with me,” he told reporters outside his residence on Monday. “I know he wouldn’t have spoken like that, somebody must have done some mischief. Siddaramaiah has a lot of love towards me,” he said.
The video was also posted by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Twitter on Monday, attacking Siddaramaiah, a former Karnataka chief minister, for indulging in caste-based politics.
“India is progressing forward. Will the master of ‘Appeasement politics’ ever grow beyond caste?” the BJP said in the tweet.
This was because the video purportedly shows Siddaramaiah claiming Lingayats were no longer with chief minister BS Yediyurappa, who belongs to the community, and that the other dominant community of Vokkaligas wasn’t supporting former chief minister Kumaraswamy, who is from that community.
The video shows a person telling Siddaramaiah that the Lingayat community has turned away from the BJP.
To this Siddaramaiah says, “See, Lingayats are not with Yediyurappa like before, and Vokkaligas are not with Kumaraswamy like earlier.”
Another person says that the Congress does not have anybody to “encash” this, to which Siddaramaiah responds in the affirmative.
However, Siddaramaiah hit back at the BJP through a series of tweets in which he said his statements were being misinterpreted.
“Casual private discussion at my residence is being misinterpreted by @BJP4Karnataka leaders to derive sadistic pleasures. Illumination of truth shall always prevail over the darkness of lies. This will be my Deepavali message to my political rivals,” he said.
He said he was inspired by BR Ambedkar, Mahatma Gandhi, Lingayat founder Basavanna and Kannada novelist and poet Kuvempu and believed in social justice.
“I believe dismantling caste structure is possible only when their ideas are incorporated,” he said.
“The statement in the video is, in fact, my expression of happiness that people see beyond the caste to decide their representatives. This is a sign of social progress & matured electorate. What is wrong if I say that people are being secular?” Siddaramaiah tweeted.
“These political rhetorics are stated when political parties reach moral bankruptcy,” he said. “These targeted fake news will further strengthen my commitment to social justice & my conviction to work for people. I thank my political rivals for this.”
Responding to the Congress leader’s statement, Kumaraswamy mocked Siddaramaiah.
“I have seen the video where he is saying that Lingayats are not with Yediyurappa and Vokkaligas are not with Kumaraswamy and that they should utilise this. He is purely secular and we are the communal ones,” the JD(S) leader said.