Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah
Mysuru/Chamrajanagara: Siddaramaiah is brimming with confidence, sure that 120-plus assembly seats are his for the picking. But the Narendra Modi-Amit Shah combo has been systematically chipping away at the Congress’s chances in the last few days with an aggressive, no-holds-barred, sniper-type campaigning. Still, Congress’s chief minister has the energy and guile to push back. Excerpts from an hour-long interview in T. Narasipur, near Mysuru, indicate as much:
You look absolutely confident of starting your second innings as CM. Is there something that has swung in your favour in the last few days, something we don’t know about?
People’s response to the Congress is extremely positive because the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) has not done anything at the centre or in the state. What is Mr (Narendra) Modi’s or (MP) Ananth Kumar’s contribution to Karnataka? Why will people vote for the BJP? We will get votes for our development work. I am more confident than I was in the previous assembly elections (in 2013). We have completed five years and fulfilled more than all promises made to the people of Karnataka.
Does the possibility of a BJP-Janata Dal (Secular) government worry you, something that cannot be ruled out at this juncture?
That is not likely. But there is already a tacit understanding between these two parties. It does not worry me as I am quite confident that we will come back with a clear majority of more than 120 (seats). If there is any swing (in votes) in the next few days, it will be in favour of the Congress.
So, you don’t have a Plan B?
I’m sure we will not be pushed into such a situation. There is no need to have a contingency plan. Mr Modi is also aware of this.
If you are looking at an outright win, you certainly believe the BJP has blundered big time…
(In) projecting (B.S.) Yeddyurappa as the next chief minister they committed a mistake, knowing fully well that he is a tainted personality.
But hasn’t the Congress targeted Modi more than Yeddyurappa in its campaigns, giving the latter enough room to manoeuvre?
Mr Modi has been projected as the next chief minister; it helps us. Yeddyurappa cannot attack us as he is facing 23 (corruption) cases before the courts. What are his achievements as CM? Earlier, he said it was not possible to waive off farmer loans, but now he has. People will laugh at him because he is accusing our government of being corrupt when he himself has gone to jail.
You have been perceived as Modi’s biggest challenger…
There is no challenge at all. Modi’s speeches are hollow and raise no issues concerning the people or the nation. Unfortunately, he has stooped to panchayati level (of politics).
Hasn’t the Modi-Shah campaigning strategy given a big boost to the BJP?
It has not made any impact on the people. Amit Shah’s is a comedy show. People are saying he is a Chanakya. But I haven’t seen anything of that sort. His Chanakya strategy is the misuse of power.
Has the BJP’s campaigning strategy in recent weeks turned you more and more aggressive?
I am already aggressive. It’s not necessary to be more aggressive. The BJP and Mr Modi are making false and baseless allegations. I have never played dirty politics or attacked anyone personally in my career. It was Mr Modi who started attacking me. Being a PM, he should have done so with documents and evidence. That is why I became a little aggressive.
Do you have anything in common with Modi?
Modi is the PM of the country (and) I am the CM of the state. He is an RSS-trained man, I am from a different background. We cannot be compared. I do not know what personality he has, and it’s very difficult to understand him.
Modi is campaigning loudly in Bengaluru. Is Bengaluru happy with the Congress?
We will perform better than last time and are hopeful of getting 18-19 seats (out of a total 28). I am not very happy with what we have done so far. We need to improve infrastructure, develop lakes, etc. Bengaluru’s development will be a key focal area if we come back to power.
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