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Siddaramaiah’s arrogance brought Congress down: Outgoing Karnataka assembly speaker

Siddaramaiah’s attitude towards others (hinting at Vokkaligas and Lingayats) made them turn against the party

Karnataka Elections 2018 Updated: May 18, 2018 07:23 IST
Venkatesha Babu
Venkatesha Babu
Hindustan Times, Bengaluru
Siddaramiah,Karnataka,Karnataka Congress
Krishnappa Bheemappa Koliwad, he is the Lingayat leader of the Congress and the speaker of the outgoing assembly.(HT Photo)

He is one of the tallest Lingayat leaders of the Congress and the speaker of the outgoing assembly. But Krishnappa Bheemappa Koliwad was humbled this week after joining a long list of sitting Congress MLAs to lose the election. The 73-year-old Koliwad lost his traditional Ranibennur seat to R Shankar, the only candidate to win from his Karnataka Pragnyavantha Janatha Party. In an interview with Venkatesha Babu, he blamed former chief minister Siddaramaiah for the party’s debacle. Edited excerpts:

Why are you angry with Siddaramaiah?

It is Siddaramaiah’s attitude and arrogance that has put the Congress party in its current predicament in Karnataka. His rank casteism, favouring members of his own community (Kurubas or traditional shepherds), and, more importantly, rewarding only ‘yes men’ has hurt the party. He has given 15-20 tickets to his community members. What was the need to give a ticket to Revanna (transport minister in the former cabinet and a fellow Kuruba) when he was already an MLC (member of legislative council)?

The CM’s attitude towards others (hinting at Vokkaligas and Lingayats) made them turn against the party. Did dividing Lingayats help the Congress party anyway? I kept telling them not to do it (grant Lingayats a separate minority religion status), but he would only listen to his ‘yes men’.

So did the Congress government fail to deliver?

No,no…I think we had good programmes and policies, our work was good but one man’s dictatorship and arrogance has brought us down.

Are you saying all this because you lost the election?

My one seat doesn’t matter. I have won five elections and lost five elections. I won an election in 1972 when he (Siddaramaiah) was not even in politics. He is a baccha (child) in front of me. He was the one who, unable to take the heat, ran from his constituency (Chamundeshwari) to contest from another (Badami). His attitude resulted in a defeat (in Chamundeshwari) and he barely won in (Badami). He tried to prevent me from getting the ticket . I reached out to Rahul (Gandhi, Congress president) and got it.

Are you planning to quit the party?

Why should I? Congress is not anybody’s personal property. I have been a loyal member since 1969 and helped build the party in the state. I am not a party hopper like him. (Siddaramaiah was in the Janata Dal- Secular till 2005). My only appeal to the Congress president is ‘please don’t make him (Siddaramaiah) the state unit president or Congress legislature party leader.’ He will destroy the party in the state. He has no intention of making {Janata Dal (Secular) leader HD} Kumaraswamy the CM. I agree that to stop communal forces, we need to do everything possible. But Siddaramaiah is not the man to do it. His political career is over.

First Published: May 18, 2018 07:22 IST