'Entire Lingayat community is against BJP'

Congress will romp home with a majority: Siddaramaiah

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, who has emerged as a strong regional leader of the Congress, has taken it upon himself to bring the party back to power in Karnataka.

A victory will be crucial for the grand old party to revive its prospects at the national level. He has taken Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah head on, and, despite facing a tough challenge in Chamundeshwari and Badami constituencies from where he is contesting, the chief minister has been crisscrossing the state, drumming up support for his party candidates.

With just two days left for the public campaign to end, P M Raghunandan of DH caught up with Siddaramaiah to understand his perspective on the key issues related to the elections. Excerpts:

You have toured the state extensively and campaigned for Congress candidates. How has the response been and how many seats will your party win?

The response has been overwhelming. It is beyond our expectations. The Congress will comfortably win 120 plus seats.

But opinion polls are predicting a hung Assembly.

There will be no hung Assembly. There is a Congress wave in the state, and the party will get the majority.

Are you open to a tie-up with the JD(S) if there is a fractured mandate?

The question of going with the JD(S) does not arise. The Congress will form the next government.

There are conflicting views on the Congress’ CM candidate. You are claiming to be the CM candidate while some senior leaders are saying that the legislature party will decide it.

I will be the next CM. The legislature party deciding about the next CM is a mere formality. In that way, I agree with them (senior Congress leaders).

It is said that many sitting Congress MLAs have become unpopular and that they are facing anti-incumbency?

Yes, I agree. Some MLAs are facing anti-incumbency. But there is no anti-incumbency factor as far as my government is concerned. People are satisfied with the government’s performance. We have delivered on the promises.

The BJP is accusing you of dividing the Lingayat faith. It is saying that the Congress will pay a heavy price for it.

Where have I divided the faith? It was Basavanna who established the Lingayat dharma. The BJP is trying to politicise the issue. The entire community is against the BJP. Party state president B S Yeddyurappa had himself signed a memorandum submitted to the Centre in the past, seeking a separate minority religion status for Veerashiva/Lingayats.

Modi is addressing 21 rallies instead of 15 planned earlier. Will it have an impact on the elections?

Let him address 50 rallies. It will not have any impact on Congress supporters.

Modi said the Congress will become PPP (Punjab, Puducherry and Parivar) party after the elections.

After this polls, the countdown for Modi’s downfall will begin. The Karnataka polls will be the trendsetter for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections and the BJP will lose badly in it.

BJP president Amit Shah is saying that his party has won 21 state Assemblies and it will win Karnataka also.

It is a mere coincidence that the BJP has won. It is not because of Amit Shah. Why did the BJP not win Bihar Assembly elections? Karnataka polls will mark the beginning of the end of the BJP in the country. 

There is a perception that the Vokkaligas are angry with the government and that there is a consolidation of Vokkaliga voters against your government. Is it true?

It’s not. The JD(S) is trying to create it. The Congress has done justice to all sections of society. So people of all castes support the party.

Nobody can win elections with the help of just one caste. Can I win with the support of Kurubas alone? H D Deve Gowda (JD-S leader) had run a similar propaganda in the past and he had lost badly. And it is going to happen now also.

Your opponents are projecting your candidature from two seats as a sign of nervousness. 

Why did Narendra Modi contest from Vadodara in Gujarat and Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls? They are simply making it an issue.

It is said that you are on a shaky ground in Chamundeshwari.

It is not a close fight at all in Chamundeshwari. I will win with a comfortable lead.

The BJP is claiming that there is an understanding between the Congress and the JD(S). Is it true?

The answer to this question lies in the contest for Chamundeshwari constituency. The BJP has fielded somebody called Gopal Rao. I myself was not aware of this person. Moreover, G T Deve Gowda (the JD-S) candidate has openly admitted that the JD(S) is supporting the BJP wherever it is weak and vice versa.

B S Yeddyurappa has been claiming that he is going to take oath as the CM on May 17. What do you have to say to this?

Nobody takes Yeddyurappa seriously. He had claimed that his party would win the two bypolls held early last year. What happened? He is under illusion and let him be there.

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Congress will romp home with a majority: Siddaramaiah

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