Interview with Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar.
CHOSEN to lead the Bharatiya Janata Party in Karnataka chiefly on account of his Lingayat tag, Jagadish Shettar has his work cut out. Chief Minister for nine months, he has the unenviable task of resurrecting the BJP’s image and leading the party back to power. Excerpts from an interview he gave Frontline:
You have been designated as the BJP’s chief ministerial candidate. What priorities do you see for the new government?
Providing a clean, transparent, development-oriented and corruption-free government was the goal of my nine-month-old administration.
How do you read the election trends?
I have been touring the Hyderabad-Karnataka region and I can say with confidence that there is a positive trend towards the BJP.
The BJP is accused of running a corruption-ridden government?
Those people [B.S. Yeddyurappa and the Bellary Reddy brothers] are not with the party any more. Their actions caused confusion in the minds of the public about the BJP. But both D.V. Sadananda Gowda and I gave clean, corruption-free government. People will forgive us for the wrongs that were committed earlier.
Corruption does not seem to be an issue in this election?
No one can raise it. With the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance coalition caught in a number of scams running to crores and crores of rupees, the Congress has no moral right to raise the issue of corruption. People also don’t want to hear about corruption. They want a clean government.
Who is your main rival?
The Congress, and in some constituencies there will be triangular fights also involving the Janata Dal (Secular).
What about Yeddyurappa’s Karnataka Janatha Paksha?
It will not work for him. In the beginning we were apprehensive that he would damage our prospects. But it is now evident that the people have realised that it is a waste voting for his party since it is not going to win. We are highlighting this aspect to the voters: why waste your vote on a party that has no chance of coming to power? The BSR Congress launched by B. Sriramulu will also have no impact on the electorate.
Owing to the violent actions of some Sangh Parivar elements, the BJP seems to have lost its popularity in the coastal areas?
That is not true. It is all media hype. The actions of these groups have had no impact on the BJP’s popularity. Also, the ordinary public are not in favour of this so-called modern pub culture.
But the party lost badly in the recent urban local body elections.
Those results will not affect the forthcoming elections. We will win around 125 seats.