Karnataka Congress chief D K Shivakumar on Saturday exuded confidence that his party would win at least 141 seats in the May 10 assembly polls and asserted that he would abide by whatever the party decides on the issue of chief ministership.
Voting for the 224 assembly seats in the state will take place on May 10 and the results will be out on May 13.
In an interview with PTI, Shivakumar said the Congress will get a comfortable majority in Karnataka and the win would open the doors for the Lok Sabha elections as the party’s victory in the state in 1978 had done.
The Karnataka Congress chief lashed out at the BJP for raising issues such as the Uniform Civil Code and the National Register of Citizens in its manifesto for the assembly polls, saying it shows their “bankruptcy” of ideas and vision for the state.
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He also claimed that since the BJP has no agenda and vision for Karnataka, the “Modi factor” will not work in the assembly polls this time.
Shivakumar, who is a leading aspirant for the chief minister’s post along with former chief minister Siddarammaiah in case the Congress comes to power, said all stories of infighting in the party are created by the media and there is no truth in them.
“The fact is that the Congress leadership is united and the party workers are very active in spreading our message both on the ground and in social media. We are putting a combined effort to ensure that the Congress comes back to power with a clear majority,” he asserted.
On him being a strong contender for the post of chief minister, Shivakumar said his first priority was to ensure that the party wins a majority in Karnataka.
“For the last three years, the Congress has been working on the ground starting from the ‘Vaccinate Karnataka’ campaign, to the ‘100 Not Out’ campaign followed by the ‘Mekedatu’ Campaign to the ‘Freedom March’ and registering 78 lakh members of the Congress. Then we made the Bharat Jodo Yatra a grand success in Karnataka,” he said.
Congress leaders and workers have not taken rest for a single day in the last three years, he said, adding that whatever is being seen now is the faith of people that the party’s hard work has won.
“For me, the party comes first and the chief ministership comes later. On the CM issue, I will abide by whatever the party decides,” Shivakumar said.
Asked about the controversy surrounding the Congress manifesto talking about taking decisive action according to law, including imposing a ban on organisations such as the Popular Front of India and the Bajrang Dal, he alleged that the BJP was trying to divide society.
“The BJP government could not provide jobs to our youth. They failed to provide any relief to the common man when it came to inflation and price rise. Now they are trying to divide the society by inflammatory speeches,” he alleged.
This will not work in Karnataka and people will sweep them aside, he claimed.
Asked about Karnataka being the gateway to the south for the BJP, Shivakumar said the people of the state have “closed the gate on the BJP’s face because of non-performance, corruption and large-scale unemployment in the state”.
People are supporting Congress in a big way and the party is coming back to power, the Karnatala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president claimed.
Asked about the BJP in its election manifesto promising to implement the Uniform Civil Code and the National Register of Citizens in Karnataka if it retains power in the state, Shivakumar said this is precisely the problem of the BJP.
They do not understand Karnataka and its people, the Congress leader alleged.
“Karnataka assembly elections are being fought on local issues. The BJP, which could not deliver on any front during its governance, has also failed to give a narrative in these elections. This shows their bankruptcy of ideas and vision for the state,” he said.
Asked about Prime Minister Modi raising the issue of abuses hurled at him, the Congress leader said the people of Karnataka are very civilized and they do not believe in using and even responding to crude language.
The Congress too does not believe in using abusive language. It is the BJP that has mastered the art of twisting the statements and manipulating the people, he alleged.
On whether the Modi factor will work this time, Shivakumar said the Congress is fighting these elections on a progressive and development-based agenda.
“We will provide Rs 2,000 per month to every woman head of the family, 200 units of free power to every household apart from free bus travel for women in KSRTC/BMTC buses and a monthly allowance of Rs 3,000 to unemployed graduates.
“As I said, the BJP has no agenda and vision for the state and people can very well see this. So the Modi factor will not work this time in these assembly polls,” he said.
Asked about the number of seats the Congress would get, Shivakumar said, “We will win at least 141 seats and form a government with a comfortable majority. The BJP will be reduced to less than 60 (seats).”
On the message that would be sent out through the Karnataka polls for the 2024 general election, he said Karnataka was just the beginning.
“We are comfortably winning Karnataka elections and it will open the doors for the Lok Sabha elections. Karnataka people will give a message to the country. Earlier also at the time of Devraj Urs (former chief minister), when the Janata Party was in power at the national level in 1978, Karnataka had opened the door for Congress. Now again, Karnataka will play its role,” he said.
“We will form a government in Karnataka in 2023 and in the country in 2024,” said Shivakumar, who is contesting from Kanakapura
Seven-time MLA Shivakumar has been elected thrice from Kanakapura since 2008 and is now seeking reelection for the fourth time from there.
He had earlier won four consecutive elections since 1989 from the nearby Sathanur till he shifted to the Kanakapura in 2008 after that constituency ceased to exist as the result of a delimitation exercise.
In the 2018 elections, Shivakumar secured 1,27,552 votes, defeating Janata Dal (Secular) candidate Narayana Gowda (47,643) by 79,909 votes.