With both Congress and the BJP announcing their election manifesto for the May 10 Karnataka assembly elections, Congress heavyweight H K Patil on Tuesday said it is unfortunate that some sections question his party’s poll promises made for the poor but not the loan write-off to rich people.
In an interview to PTI, Patil — who is contesting to retain his home turf of Gadag assembly constituency — said the quality of campaign has stooped to a very low level this time and it is not good for making the country’s democracy healthy. He exuded confidence that the Congress will win all four seats in Gadag district. In the 2018 election, BJP won three assembly seats (Shirahatti, Ron and Naragund), while Congress netted Gadag) In fact, the Gadag constituency has been ruled by the Patil family for 47 years.
Patil is also Congress’ Maharashtra in-charge. Asked how the Congress plans to finance promises made in the election manifesto if elected to power, Patil said: ”It is unfortunate that whenever a poll promise is made for the poor, everyone asks these kinds of questions.
Did anyone question the Rs 10 lakh crore loan write-off by the Government of India to 523 industrial houses.” Everyone remains quiet if a loan is written-off to rich people but questions are asked if schemes are announced for the poor, he said. Asked why the Congress is not empowering the poor but making them dependent on such schemes, he said, ”I agree we should also empower them. But for sometime, we need to handhold them and then make them stand on their legs.”
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He said the poor and middle class are hit by inflation and price rise. Patil — who has held several portfolios as minister rued the quality of the campaign has come down. ”It is unfortunate that the level has stooped to a very low level this time. This is not good for making our democracy healthy.”
Democracy has weakened by ”unhealthy utterances and malpractices in the state”. Asked why he was lying low despite being a senior Congress leader, Patil said he does not have a habit of being aggressive with words. ”The political atmosphere has deteriorated now. I don’t appreciate unnecessary aggressiveness,” he said. A few days ahead of the polling on May 10, Patil — who was an MLC for 20 years and a legislator for a decade — is focusing on the silent voters in his constituency.
”There is no need to attract my supporters and well-wishers particularly when 8 days are left (for polling). It is the time to attract those who are neutral. That’s what we are naturally doing,” he said. Asked why he was not seen as a contender for the Chief Minister’s post like many leaders in the party, he said, ”let me make it very clear, it is the High Command which finally decides whom to make the CM…”
On the alleged scam in connection with the Rs 190-crore water testing lab when he was rural development and panchayat raj minister during Siddaramaiah-led Congress government, he said, ”There is no controversy. People are jealous of the success of that scheme.
If anything wrong is suspected, let the government probe and take action.” Patil said the entry of former senior BJP leaders Jagdish Shettar and Laxman Savadi will benefit the Congress. The results will be a surprise in Lingayat-dominated Bombay-Karnataka region as the Congress will win more than 36 seats out of 56.
”We will cross the magic figure. I won’t say we will stop at the magic figure. We will be comfortable and form the government,” he added. In Gadag assembly constituency, BJP has fielded Anil Menasinakai who has been contesting for the third consecutive election, while JD(S)’ Govindegowda, a social activist and an IT entrepreneur, is in the fray. Though 14 candidates are contesting, it is a triangular fight in this assembly segment.