Senior Congress leader Siddaramaiah Tuesday termed the growing clamour within his party to make him chief minister once again as an expression of supporters' "affection", but said he still stands by his word about not contesting the next assembly polls.
"I have made it very very clear that the chief minister's post is not vacant now (hence no question about me becoming CM). What our people are saying is, after next election I should become chief minister once again," Siddaramaiah said.
Speaking to reporters in Hubballi, he said, "Is there anything that I should not become (Chief Minister) if people give their blessings? Where is that I should not become, if people bless our party?"
"Have they (supporters) said I should become now? In the 2023 election if people bless Congress, Siddaramaiah may become chief minister - this is what they are saying. What is wrong in that?" he asked.
However, Siddaramaiah said, he stands by his earlier word, not to contest the next assembly polls.
"I have said, I will not contest next election, but is there anything that they (supporters) should also say what I have said, they are expressing their opinion.
"I have expressed my opinion that I will not contest next election, even today I will abide by it," he said.
Siddaramaiah noted that when people at meetings demand that he should become CM once again, he responds by saying, "if people bless let us see".
"What is wrong in responding like that to a particular situation,?" he asked.
He also blamed the media for making it a big issue and said, "Where have I said, I will become CM?"
Ahead of the May 2018 assembly polls, Siddaramaiah had said it could "most likely" be his last election.
Earlier, during the 2013 assembly polls too, Siddaramaiah had said that it was his last election and went on to become chief minister after the polls.
For the last few days there has been a growing clamour among Congress legislators to make Siddaramaiah CM once again, which has irked JD(S) leaders and the incumbent Chief Minister of the coalition government H D Kumaraswamy.
The issue also had led to a bitter public spat between Siddaramaiah, and his bete noire and JD(S) state President A H Vishwanath.
He said state BJP chief B S Yeddyurappa was "dreaming" about forming the government and becoming chief minister has become a "laughing stock" in the eyes of the people.
"He has been saying this from the day one. He did become the chief minister with 104 MLAs as the single largest party, but had to resign in three days, unable to prove the majority.
He should be ashamed about repeatedly claiming that he will become the chief minister? If he had said it once people might have taken it seriously, but repeatedly saying it, no one will believe him," he said.
Yeddyurappa had recently claimed that there is an "atmosphere" for the BJP to form government in the state, and had said longevity of the coalition government would depend on the stand taken by about 20 "disgruntled" Congress legislators after Lok Sabha poll results.
On his spat with JD(S) state President Vishwanth, Siddaramaiah said, "I have already said what I had to on the issue, I don't want to discuss it publicly again.
"I will discuss it in the coordination committee meeting, there ends the matter."
Growing differences between alliance partners has resulted in a public spat between leaders of the two parties in the past few days.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)