Ballari: After almost a week of non-stop campaigning, former Karnataka chief minister, B.S. Yeddyurappa, 75, of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), shows no signs of slowing down in the run up to the 3 November bypolls in three parliamentary and two Assembly seats in the state.

After an impressive performance in the May assembly election, where it won 104 out of 224 seats, just eight shy of a simple majority, the BJP hopes that a good result in these polls would push the Janata Dal (Secular), or the JD(S), and Congress coalition out of power in the state. With the run-up to the polls baring deep-seated differences between the coalition partners, BJP, hopes to get another chance at forming the government.

On a hot and dusty day spent campaigning in the mineral-rich district of Ballari, Yeddyurappa spoke to Mint on the takeaways for the BJP, the relationship between the coalition partners, the 2019 general elections, and more. Edited excerpts:

How significant are these bypolls?

This is not an election anyone expected. There is no enthusiasm among voters as well but we have to make sure they participate. We will win in Ballari, Shivamogga and Jamkhandi. It is clear that Narendra Modi will return to power with a majority and our success in these bypolls will add to our strength.

You say Mandya is a close fight. Will the fight between JD(S)-Congress help you enter the Vokkalliga heartland?

Our candidate Dr Siddaramaiah is getting really good response. The problems between JD(S) and Congress in the district is also turning into a boon for us. This is a great opportunity as we are weak in Mandya, Ramanagaram and other surrounding regions. If we put up a really good fight here, this would help strengthen us a lot in these parts.

Will the souring relations between the JD(S)-Congress give the BJP room for another crack at forming the government?

Their relations have worsened. It will become very difficult for them to continue after 6 November (when results of the bypolls will be declared). Fights, dissent, disagreements within the coalition have increased a lot in recent times. It is beneficial for us.

The coalition government is banking on the farm loan waiver. Will this work in their favour?

The farm loan waiver has become a joke. There is no waiver of loans taken from nationalized banks. All the government is doing is talking about it for the last five months. There have been over 200 cases of farmer suicides in recent months and at least 100 talukas are drought hit. The government is acting like they are not answerable.

Will the absence of the chief minister, the deputy CM and Deve Gowda during Valmiki Jayanti become a factor in Ballari?

The CM and deputy CM did not attend the event and people tore up banners. Deve Gowda was given the Valmiki award but even he did not show up. Adding to this, the Congress has disrespected Sriramulu by calling him a “420" and has insulted the Valmiki community. All this will hurt them and benefit us.

It is said that only money talks in Ballari?

That is there. The Congress is fighting these elections based on money might. They don’t have any other credentials. People here have a lot of respect for Shantha and Sriramulu. I don’t think their (Congress’) money will have any influence here.

Siddaramaiah says that the bypolls are not an indicator for 2019, while Kumaraswamy is calling it a “semi-final". Will these bypolls become a trend setter for 2019?

In a way, yes. We are estimating that we will win about 22 Lok Sabha seats. We have already started work in that direction. These elections were unexpected, but we are continuing to work towards that goal.

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