EDITED EXCERPTS FROM THE INTERVIEW
You recently claimed that the BJP will win 120 seats. Where does the confidence stem from?
We have provided good governance. The party is expected to do well in the regions of north Karnataka, Bengaluru and Mumbai- Karnataka. The infighting in the Congress would also benefit the BJP.
Won’t anti-incumbency be a factor?
There will be some anti-incumbency. But I think we will be re-elected thanks to our developmental work.
What are the main issues that the BJP will highlight?
Good governance, good development and financial discipline.
To what extent will the BJP benefit by projecting you as the CM candidate?
I hail from north Karnataka, which gave the party a strong base and numbers in the 2008 election. I’m the seniormost leader and have vast experience in all spheres. I was Leader of the Opposition for five years, then the Speaker, state president and even revenue minister. I’m a Lingayat, which is the state’s largest community. The caste factor will also influence the election.
Will the people in rural areas vote differently from those in urban ones?
Rural voters would look at the facilities provided by the government, whereas urban voters would be concerned with governance. We have delivered in both areas.
After the exit of Yeddyurappa and his loyalists, what is the status of the party cadres at the booth level?
The BJP is not dependent on personalities. It has a strong base among voters. Leaders may come and go. But the party is based on principles. So, even after Yeddyurappa’s exit, most of the MLAs are still with us.
But more than 25 MLAs have left the party in the past two months.
Only 12 MLAs resigned when Yeddyurappa left. After that, three more resigned, who have now joined the KJP. After that, three more joined the Congress. Anyway, those who left were outsiders.
The BJP suffered a big defeat in the local body polls. Do you think the voters will vote differently in the Assembly election?
You can’t compare the two. We didn’t perform well in the 2007 local body polls, but won the 2008 Assembly election. Local body polls depend only on local issues.
The scams and scandals that rocked the BJP regime in the past five years seem to have dented the party’s image. Are you seeking an apology from the electorate?
All those involved in the corruption have left the party. Now, the BJP is clean.
The BJP has already squandered a five-year mandate. Why will the people give it another chance?
The mistakes and controversies happened because of some leaders; for that, we are apologising to the people. And we are requesting them to give us another chance.
What is your assessment of the Congress, JD(S), KJP and BSR Congress?
The main electoral fight will be between the BJP and the Congress. In some pockets where the JD(S) is strong, there will be a triangular fight. The KJP and BSR Congress don’t have any considerable strength.
Rumour has it that the BJP will have an alliance with the JD(S).
There is no tacit alliance. It is just a rumour. We are contesting in all the seats.
Narendra Modi is reportedly not comfortable in campaigning for the BJP due to the expected poor performance.
I don’t think that is the case. It is just media speculation. I recently had a chat with him. He is expected to campaign for the party in the last week of this month.
What will be your last message as the chief minister to the people?
That I have built a clean image for the party and provided a corruption-free government. I have also waived off loans to farmers and regularised 23,000 daily wage employees. I have increased support and funding for 42 backward taluks. According to some reports, we have developed Karnataka as the second most developed state. If given a chance again, we would want to see to it that we make it the No. 1 state.