Party says timing not right, cites Shivakumar’s troubles.
Bengaluru: Perhaps for the first time in six-and-a-half years, former chief minister, Siddaramaiah was given the cold shoulder by the national leadership of the Congress party, when he raised the issue of opposition leader in the Karnataka Assembly during his recent trip to Delhi, according to sources.
Mr Siddaramaiah, who was in the capital to attend a meeting convened by Congress president, Sonia Gandhi, met All India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretaries and senior leaders like A.K. Antony, Ahmed Patel and K.C. Venugopal to raise the idea of announcing an opposition leader for the Karnataka Assembly, sources reveal.
He was clearly keen on assuming the role himself or appointing his nominee to it. But he was reportedly rebuffed and told that the timing for such an announcement was not right with senior party leader D.K. Shivakumar being in the custody of the Enforcement Directorate.
Party insiders point out that when Mr Rahul Gandhi was president of the party, Mr Siddaram-aiah was used to calling the shots and getting things done his way. But now with the old guard back, he is finding it difficult to push his ideas, according to them
“The D.K. Shivakumar issue was just an excuse to avoid discussing the issue of opposition leader,” they said.
However, Mr Siddaramaiah’s supporters denied that he had raised the issue of opposition leader in the state assembly with the national leadership, and claimed he had only discussed ways to strengthen the party and fight the coming by-polls with it. He also advised it against readmitting the disqualified MLAs, according to one of the leaders, who accompanied him on the trip.
Meanwhile, reacting to home minister Amit Shah pitching for Hindi as a common language for the country on Saturday, Mr Siddaramaiah said he was opposed to celebrating Hindi Divas. Tweeting in Kannada, he said, “The lie that Hindi is a national language should stop. Let it be known to all that it is just like Kannada, one among the 22 official languages of India.”
However, the leader added that he was not opposing Hindi but the attempt to impose a language. “Languages are the window of knowledge. It should be nurtured by love and not by force.”