Blaming Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah for Lingayata and Veerashaiva issue, former chief minister and BJP leader Jagadish Shettar, spoke to CNBC-TV18, says Reddy brothers are not facing any cases and BJP will get a clear majority in the coming assembly elections.
Edited Excerpts: What are the core issues that you are leading this election? This is your sixth time around in this constituency that you are contesting. There is a sense that there is some sort of an anti-incumbency. What are the core issues that you are focusing right now?
Rs 1,000 crore development amount has been sanctioned and almost main roads and construction, everything is completed and 24x7 water supply already given in 30 wards, 50% of the areas and all other works are going on. There is no allegations against me.
Corruption or any misappropriation, nothing against me. So opponents have no issue to talk. So they are talking about no development work is taking place in Hubli-Dharwad but it's far against the truth.
If you see the public feeling, everybody wanted to support me. Here in this area, in this ward, they promised 100% voting for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). So, it's only the atmosphere that is being created by opponents regarding anti-incumbency and other things. Nothing has happened.
Last five times, I consecutively elected from here. That atmosphere is also still here and sixth time with the blessing of the people, I will be re-elected.
What is the prospects with the BJP in overall Bombay-Karnataka, how are you looking at it? Lingayat is one issue which is expected to somewhere break some of the vote bank that you have. Lingayata and Veerashaiva issue is a brainchild of Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and the issue is created to divide the society and community.
For that purpose, this issue has been racked up by the CM himself and it's led by two cabinet ministers. So it shows that this issue is created by Chief Minster and Congress only to gain the political motive and political gain.
But it is expected to hamper BJP’s prospects in Bombay Karnataka region?
Community people are angry with the Congress because they have divided the society, Swamiji and started fighting in roads. Nothing will be effected to the BJP prospects.
What are the numbers that you are quoting in the Bombay Karnataka region this time around?
In 2008, we got majority seats and that will be repeated in 2018 also.
You spoke about no allegations of corruptions and a very clean image that you have as one of the leaders of BJP. A lot of question marks have been raised after the Reddy brother, family and his allies have been inducted and given seats this time around. How do you counter that view because most of them have cases against them?
There are no cases and allegations against Sriramulu. He is contesting in two constituencies. Against him, no cases, nothing has been there and Janardhan Reddy is supporting Sriramulu in Molakalmuru and in some other constituencies on his own. It is not a party projection that Janardhan Reddy is going to campaign.
He is still campaigning for BJP. He is seen on the stage with your political leaders, does it not go against what Amit Shah had said that you would have nothing to do with the Reddy family?
There is no conviction, nothing has been happened against Janardhan Reddy. Even convicted people like Lalu Prasad Yadav is allying with Congress. Congress president Rahul Gandhi is meeting Lalu Prasad Yadav when he was in jail. Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi are on bail in National Herald Patrike. If they had not granted the bail, they would have been in jail.
Lalu Prasad Yadav is not campaigning for Congress but Janardhan Reddy is.
Openly, they declared alliance with Congress. When Congress people are allying with convicted people – party has not officially given direction to Janardhan Reddy to campaign for BJP. He is on his own. In the democratic set up, if anybody on his own supports any party, nothing will happen.
BJP is not even stopping your own candidates to be seen along with Janardhan Reddy?
No, when everybody is ready. If he wants to campaign for any party, BJP or anybody, he has all rights and liberty is there in the democratic set up. On his own, Sriramulu is close friend of Janardhan Reddy.
You have to see the national leaders, AB Vajpayee is a national leader and Narendra Modi is a national leader. We have to see the national leader image, party image – two-three exceptional cases will not give direction that entire party. Party is having an image and it is not at all dependent on any family members.
Critics say that his family members have been given tickets and in some way the entire family is back into politics, back to BJP and BJP is again supporting some of the tainted ministers who it had moved out of party? Congress party entirely dependent on Nehru family. After Nehru, Indira Gandhi, after Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, now Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi. That is dynasty, this is corruption.
No, because image of the party, image of the leaders who are taking the lead, that we have to looked at, except for two-three cases that should not be there.
But it certainly does portray what overall BJP is trying to do in Karnataka. Our national president Amit Shah and Muralidhar have told us to maintain distance from Reddy brothers.
If anybody wants to support the BJP, we have no issues.
When do we see BJP’s manifesto. We haven’t heard on what are the promises that the BJP is making in Karnataka, when do we see the manifesto and what could be the few important points that you would highlight here for your voters?
Tomorrow morning BJP is going to release the manifesto and in manifesto, we will support the causes of the farmers, downtrodden people, development of the Karnataka state, creation of the infrastructure and giving opportunity for more employment. In the manifesto, we are giving importance to all these issues.
What are the prospects that you feel in terms of Karnataka, are you confident, you will get a majority in Karnataka this time around?
When our national president put a mission, more than 150, definitely we will achieve it and with a clear absolute majority, we will form the government. BJP will form the government and BS Yeddyurappa will be our Chief Minister.
If you are so confident of a majority, why are we seeing BJP trying to praise Deve Gowda. Today Siddaramaiah also said that this is like a strategy trying to see if there can be any alliance or stuff, are you cosying up to Janata Dal (Secular), how do you respond to that?
It is appreciation of Deve Gowdaji by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi. You should not think about any political intention because always Modiji respected Gowdaji a lot because on so many occasions, former Prime Minister met Modiji. They discuss a lot of things regarding irrigation and farmers cause.
For that purpose, Modiji have high regard for Gowdaji. With that intention only he appreciated. Because that appreciation is also caused because Siddaramaiah , under whom he trained, now in a low language is criticising Gowdaji.
In 2013, Modi had called him an old man who should retire?
Some occasions. Because at that time Modi was not a Prime Minister. After becoming Prime Minister what is his behaviour, what is his conduct towards Gowdaji that is to be looked into. Siddaramaiah being a Chief Minister, how he is behaving.
Internally has there been any discussion that in case this election heads into a hung assembly? Will you be open for an alliance with JD (S) or what has been the internal discussion?
Our stand, our party will get the clear majority. We will form the government on our own capacity. I think there is no question of alliance, nothing will happen, we will get the clear majority.
That reply I will give on May 15.
Just in case, worst case scenario, would there still be a window or a door of opportunity?