Siddaramaiah front-runner for CM’s post, says Karnataka PCC working president

Asserting that there was no anti-incumbency against  the Siddaramaiah government, he took a dig at the BJP, saying its president Amith Shah is becoming a ‘star campaigner’ for the  ruling party.

india Updated: Apr 09, 2018 15:26 IST
Press Trust of India, Bengaluru
Siddaramaiah,Karnataka election,Karnataka elections
Congress president Rahul Gandhi with Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah at Palace Ground in Bengaluru on Sunday. (Arijit Sen/HT Photo)

Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee working president Dinesh Gundu Rao said on Monday he was confident that the party will return to power in the May 12 state assembly polls.

Incumbent Siddaramaiah will be the “front-runner” for the chief minister’s post, he said.

Asserting that there was no anti-incumbency against the Siddaramaiah government, he took a dig at the BJP, saying its president Amith Shah is becoming a “star campaigner” for the ruling party.

He also raised questions about Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “absence from campaigning.”

“Congress is going for election under the leadership of chief minister, it has been stated. It is under his leadership entire campaign is being run...he is the face of the election, he is the captain of our team,” Rao said.

“CM will be decided after theelection, if we win, CLP will meet and decide, but he(Siddaramaiah) is the captain of our team, so obviously if wewin again, he will be the front-runner,” he said.

Rao, however, did not wish to respond whether Congress’decision not to announce chief ministerial candidate was toavoid any divisions or conflict within the party, with KPCCpresident G Parameshwara also seen as a serious contenderfor the top job.

Though the party has not announced any chief ministerial candidate, it has named Siddaramaiah as its face.

Rao said he was confident about the Congress performing better than it did during the 2013 assembly polls, when it won 122 out of 224 seats.

“I think we will do better than last time, because last time was election based upon anti or negative BJP (wave)...this time in the election people are not only unhappy with BJP, but they are happy with the Congress in Karnataka.”

Rao also claimed that there was no anti-incumbency, adding, instead, “there is pro-incumbency.”

“We will improve than last time, but we will have to get the ticket distribution every thing done correctly.”

“We should see to it that deserving people get the ticket, if we do that correctly, then I think definitely there will be no other problem,” he said.

When it was pointed out that after 1985 no party in thestate has been able to retain power consecutively, he observed that they were unable to come back due to reasons like division or dissidents within the party.

However, there was nothing of that sort this time, he said.

“We have given a very stable, good government, and have delivered on our promises which has reached the people. This is a pro-incumbency government, people are preferring us to other parties,” he said.

Ruling out “Modi wave”, Rao said the “Modi factor or phenomenon is going down, because people are not seeing tangible results.”

He pointed out that Modi has not come to Karnataka forthe last one-and-half months and has been cancelling his programmes.

“Why is he cancelling? Why is he notcoming to Karnataka? Why is only Amit Shah touring? Modihimself is apprehensive I think,” Rao said.

Shah’s repeated visits to the poll bound state have had no impact, Rao claimed.

“I think Amit Shah is becoming a star campaigner for the Congress, because whatever he is doing is helping us,” he said, citing his “gaffes.”

He claimed that Shah coming to the state has also suffocated the BJP, as state leaders have “become voiceless”,

“The more Amit Shah campaigns for BJP, the better it is for Congress,” he said.

Responding to a question on former prime minister Deve Gowda’s JDS, Rao said, post election, the party that talkedabout secular credentials may join hands with the BJP.

He said as both these parties know that they cannot get majority on their own, they have an internal pact to thwart Congress from getting majority.

Asked about joining hands with JDS in case of a hung assembly, as Congress has worked with the party in the past, Rao said “The problem is they (JDS) are not reliable.”

“They don’t have ideology and philosophy... How can you have any plan based upon them?,” he said.

Hitting out at the BJP for calling Congress and Rahul Gandhi “election Hindu,” and defending visits to mutts and religious places, Rao said, the opposition is more aggressively doing it.

“Amit Shah is even conducting meetings of swamijis, which is so political,” he said.

Claiming that Congress leaders have been to temples inthe past also while campaigning, he said “it is an attempt by BJPto target Rahul Gandhi by accusing him of trying to get political mileage....which is not true.”

Rao also said theparty has nothing to do on the issue of religious minoritystatus to Lingayats and Veerashaiva Lingayats and the issuewill not make much impact in the polls.

“Lingayat has nothing to do with the poll prospects orpolitics; Congress party does not have a stand on this, we have not taken any stand,” he said.

Terming it is a “community issue”, Rao said the chief minister has followed procedure following the demandfrom the community.

On addressing internal bickerings and disgruntlement within the party ahead of election, Rao, also a former minister, said “Things will happen, but we will have to see tothat we limit such disturbances...”

First Published: Apr 09, 2018 15:26 IST