Lauding M. Mallikarjun Kharge, Leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha, and N. Dharam Singh, former Chief Minister, for their persistent efforts to get special status to the Hyderabad-Karnataka region through a Constitutional amendment, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has said that the Bharatiya Janata Party can never claim credit for Article 371(J). He was speaking at Mr. Singh’s 80th birthday celebrations here on Sunday evening.
“Thanks to the unrelenting efforts by Mr. Kharge and Mr. Singh for decades that Article 371 of the Constitution was amended for providing special status to Hyderabad Karnataka. During the tenure of the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, L.K. Advani, the then Deputy Prime Minister, wrote to S.M. Krishna, the then Chief Minister of Karnataka, rejecting the proposal for a special status to the region,” he recalled. The Congress, he added, promised the special status and fulfilled it soon after coming to power at the Centre.
He said that the enactment was a part of implementing Congress ideology of equality and social justice. “The nation’s real development is possible only when all people get equal opportunities. With Article 371(J) of the Constitution in force, the backwards Hyderabad-Karnataka will move fast on the track of development,” he said. Attributing 45-year long political friendship between Mr. Kharge and Mr. Singh to “pro-people” ideology of the Congress, the Chief Minister said that the long unity was possible despite differences in several issues and style of functioning only because of the secular and development-oriented ideology of the party.
Earlier, Dinesh Gundu Rao, State working president of the Congress, recalled how Mr. Singh, who hailed from a small community, could develop from a member of the erstwhile Gulbarga City Corporation to Chief Minister.