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We are leading the race: Jaitley

Nobody thought Congress could lose more than half of its seats and BJP would emerge the largest party with 79 seats, reports Shekhar Iyer.
Hindustan Times | By Shekhar Iyer, New Delhi
UPDATED ON APR 14, 2008 01:45 AM IST

Four years ago, when BJP general secretary Arun Jaitely was given the task of managing the Karnataka polls, he had found it quite an effort to convince the party that it could be a front-runner. The BJP then did not have a chief minister candidate. It was SM Krishna and the Congress that was in command — though the NDA was in power.

Nobody thought, says Jaitley, the 150-member Congress could lose more than half of its seats and the BJP would emerge the largest party with 79 seats.

This time, back in the same role, Jaitley says his task is easier. “We have a widely accepted chief ministerial candidate, YS Yeddyurappa, and an undercurrent of sympathy — owing to Deve Gowda’s act of thwarting a BJP-led government last November — is helping us.”

Jaitley’s last role was in Gujarat where the win was credited to chief minister Narendra Modi’s popularity. “I did not do much in Gujarat,” he says though his boys, apart from local BJP leaders, worked behind the scenes, right from coining the cheer slogan ‘Jitega Gujarat’ to picking up issues that put the Congress on the defensive.

Confident that the BJP has had a headstart after releasing its first list with 80 new faces and 63 of the 79 sitting MLAs, Jaitley says, “This time we don’t have to convince ourselves that we are front-runners.”

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