Hindutva, Modi wave will give us absolute majority: Eshwarappa

Hindutva, Modi wave will give us absolute majority: Eshwarappa

Eshwarappa is likely to face a neck-and-neck race in Shivamogga in the May 12 Assembly polls.

Senior Karnataka BJP leader K S Eshwarappa on Tuesday said the party would form the next government securing an absolute majority by banking on "Hindutva and Modi wave".

Eshwarappa, who is likely to face a neck-and-neck race in Shivamogga in the May 12 Assembly polls, said he has never asked for any particular post in the party but only wished to see the party come back to power with absolute majority.

The former deputy chief minister and Leader of the Opposition in the Karnataka Legislative Council said the BJP was banking strongly on "Hindutva and Modi wave" to win comfortably to form the government without seeking support from the JD(S) headed by former prime minister H D Deve Gowda.

The 70-year-old Eshwarappa, who hails from the powerful Kuruba community, said he was confident of defeating sitting Congress MLA B Prasanna Kumar with a huge margin.

Last time, Eshwarappa had lost to Kumar by 6,000 votes. Dismissing opinion polls, he asserted that there would be no hung Assembly and people would give a clear verdict to form the government for the next five years.

"In Shivamogga, all castes are with the BJP. Our concept of Hindutva embraces people of all castes, including Muslims, Christians and minorities. Unfortunately, the Congress has wrongly interpreted this and is misleading the public against us," Eshwarappa said.

He also said there was no "polarisation game" being played in the polls. "Since 1999, we have fought elections keeping aside Muslims. We never expected Muslim votes despite which we have been supporting them," he said.

Eshwarappa had launched the 'Rayanna Brigade', naming it after 18th Century warrior and freedom fighter Sangolli Rayanna of the Kuruba community, at the height of his feud with state party chief B S Yeddyurappa.

Later, he gave a quiet burial to it after the party central leadership intervened, with both Eshwarappa and Yeddyurappa calling a truce.

When asked if the BJP was losing a strong support base of Lingayats, he said, "The demand for minority religion status to Lingayats is a cynical ploy by the Congress to divide the community. It will boomerang badly."

He said people are not bothered about it at least in Shivamogga, dominated by the Lingayat community.

Stepping up its Hindutva narrative in the elections, Eshwarappa also said the "Namo" factor would also be the key to the BJP's victory in the state. The Modi wave is strong in the state, he claimed.

Modi has a strong emotional connect with the public despite many people not being able to understand his Hindi speeches.

"Their burning desire is to save Hindutva and they believe it is possible under Modi's leadership."

Asked about infighting and dissatisfaction over ticket distribution among the BJP members, Eshwarappa said it was more prominent and visible in the Congress.

"Discussion and arguments are part of the democratic system. That does not mean there is conflict within the BJP. Infighting is more in Congress and was visible during ticket distribution...the way Siddarmaiah, Kharge and Moily camps were fighting for tickets," he said.

Asked about his aspiration to become chief minister, Eshwarappa, once considered to be an alternative power centre to his rival Yeddyurappa, said he had never asked for a particular post so far.

"I have accepted whatever posts given to me by the party. Moreover, Yeddyurappa has been declared as CM candidate. It won't be proper at this point to talk (about my dreams of becoming CM)," he added.

Eshwarappa is contesting for the fifth term from Shivamogga. His rival Kumar said he was confident of retaining the seat.

"The BJP is not fighting elections on development plank but seeking votes from a particular community, Hindus," he said.

Kumar said it shows the weakness of a senior leader like Eshwarappa that he cannot win elections in his individual capacity and has to depend on the Modi wave.