Congress leader and former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah alleged today that the Janata Dal Secular or JDS was not contesting the coming Assembly and Lok Sabha by-elections in north Karnataka as the party wants its "marginal votes" to go to the ruling BJP in the state.
His comments a day after JDS patriarch and former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda said his party would not field candidates as it did not have the funds to fight the bypolls.
By-elections for Belgaum (Belagavi) Lok Sabha, and Basavakalyan, Sindgi and Maski Assembly seats are due and the schedule is expected to be announced by the Election Commission soon.
Siddaramaiah, also Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Assembly, told reporters in Hubballi that the JDS was not strong in these constituencies. "They want their marginal votes also to go to BJP. Hence, JDS is not contesting," he claimed.
Senior JDS MLC, Basavaraj Horatti was elected Chairman of the Karnataka Legislative Council on Tuesday with the support of the BJP amid indications that the two parties are warming up to each other.
To a question on the ongoing agitation demanding ST (Scheduled Tribe) status to the Kuruba (shepherd) community, to which he also belongs, Siddaramaiah said when he was Chief Minister he had ordered a 'Kulashastra Adhyayana' (ethnographic study) about categorising Kurubas into ST category.
"The study is still ongoing.The demands should be made after the study is over.In my opinion, rallies are not needed at this point," he said.
In a show of strength, Kurubas, categorised as Other Backward Castes (OBCs), staged a mammoth rally last Sunday demanding ST tag for the community.
Siddaramaiah alleged that the BJP and RSS were playing politics in the issue to provide reservation to Kurubas, and "their main motive is to divide Kuruba community".
"Why is KS Eshwarappa (a Kuruba and senior minister in the BS Yediyurappa Cabinet) is protesting against his own party? This clearly exposes their motive," Siddaramaiah said.
Reacting to Siddaramaiah's statement, KS Eshwarappa, the Rural Development and Panchayatraj Minister, sought to know why Siddaramaiah was "opposed to the campaign" by the community.
"We have no objection to the Kulashastra Adhyayana but Siddaramaiah should make it clear why this agitation is not required," Mr Eshwarappa told reporters in the district headquarters town of Shivamogga.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)