By giving chance to 52 new faces, the BJP is trying to build its future leadership in the state, the party’s in-charge for Karnataka, Arun Singh, tells DH’s Amrita Madhukalya in an interview.
Will the party’s gamble on new faces help counter the anti-incumbency of the Bommai government?
There’s no anti-incumbency against either the government or the party. The BJP gives a chance to young faces across states, ensuring that we continue to respect senior leaders. We have done this in UP, Uttarakhand, Assam, Gujarat or Himachal. New faces ensure that we have a future, while we take along the seniors.
But this has led to some protests by senior party leaders across the state.
It is not unusual to hurt the feelings of some leaders; for every ticket we had over 5 contenders. The Congress came out with 165 names in two lists, but are scared to come up with other names so that they don’t face protests. We will take all our leaders along.
Is it true that the party will not have a chief ministerial face?
I’m not in a position to say, since we sit over discussions and deliberate over these issues. The party might declare a chief ministerial face. The work and growth of the Bommai government stands testimony to Karnataka’s growth.
Will the party have PM Modi as the main face of the campaign?
PM Modi has popularity, and he will lead the campaign in the state. We also have a slew of senior party faces like president JP Nadda, union ministers Amit Shah and Smriti Irani, as well chief ministers Yogi Adityanath and Himanta Biswa Sarma, apart from state leaders BS Yedyurappa and CM Bommai campaigning for us. PM Modi’s rallies in the last month, at Belgaum, Shivamogga, Mandya, and Davangere, drew crowds running into lakhs.
Congress has released four key guarantees. What will be the BJP’s offering?
People of Karnataka take pride in the state, and it ranks high in the ease of doing business – the state has the highest number of FDIs and ranks first on innovation index. The first Vande Bharat was from Karnataka, the Bangalore-Mysore expressway and a helicopter factory were built by us. The Upper Bhadra Project has been allocated Rs 5,300 crore. We’re also sending direct benefits to crores of beneficiaries – 11 lakh students are getting Raitha Vidya Nidhi, 39 lakh people got Nal Se Jal connection, and 52 lakh get PM Samman Nidhi. We’ve also brought down religious reservations from 4 per cent to 2 per cent.
In addition to that, the BJP is a strong party organisationally, and we have spent the last 4-5 years building ourselves from the grassroots.
The Congress is running a tight ship in Karnataka. Who do you see as the bigger contender – Siddaramaiah or DK Shivakumar?
The Congress has not prepared organisationally, and they don’t have workers at the booth level. They carried out a yatra which has built a perception. But that has been offset by groupism and infighting. There are three camps trying to outwit each other which will benefit us. We have fielded two senior names – V Somanna and R Ashok – against Siddaramaiah and DK Shivakumar, respectively. The Congress is leaderless and visionless. On the other hand, PM Modi is a vote-puller for us. The Congress has merchants of false promises, and we are not leaving any stone unturned to defeat them.
The JD(S) said that you’ve approached them for post-poll alliances.
We are fighting against the Congress and the JD(S) in these elections with the same fervour.