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New Delhi/Bangalore:Jagadish Shettar will be the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) chief ministerial candidate in the Karnataka assembly polls, party president Rajnath Singh said Monday, even as he downplayed the issue of corruption that has plagued the party-led government in the southern state.

Singh, who was addressing a Bangalore rally through video conference after his aircraft developed a snag and he had to return mid-way, also announced that BJP leaders L.K. Advani and Narendra Modi will be the party’s star campaigners in Karnataka.

The BJP president, along with senior leaders Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley, was to visit Bangalore to kick-start the party’s election campaign on Monday. Addressing the rally, Singh admitted that his party faced “adverse" situation after removing B. S. Yeddyurappa as chief minister over allegations of corruption, but said his party would not spare anyone indulging in corruption.

“We had to face some adverse situation in Karnataka ... It would have been good if there was no allegation against B. S. Yeddyurappa. We wish we had one chief minister for five years," Singh said. “I want to assure the people of Karnataka that anyone indulging in corruption will not remain in his chair in the BJP," he said.

Singh listed interest-free loans to farmers, devolution of power by empowering panchayats, rural drinking water schemes, infrastructure development and introduction of bus service in Bangalore that won several awards, besides laying the foundation of Metro rail in Bangalore as the achievements of the BJP government in Karnataka.

“In five years, the government’s performance was satisfactory. I am confident that the BJP will get a clear majority in Karnataka," Singh said. To a question on possible tie-up with Yeddyurappa’s party, Singh said “there was no question of it".

The BJP president rejected suggestions that support for his party had weakened in the state following the exit of Yeddyurappa. “BJP is not a party run by individuals. It is run by team spirit," he said. He said Shettar did not get enough time to work for the welfare of the people of the state, but performed well in the limited time he had. Singh claimed that Karnataka was among the “best performing" states led by BJP governments, including Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. He hit out at the Congress for failing to bring India in the top league of nations in the world despite being in power for 53 years.

The BJP also suspended Lok Sabha members B. Y. Raghavendra and Shivakumar Udasi for “anti-party activities" as they had been identified with Yeddyurappa’s Karnataka Janata Party.

The state unit of the BJP had been pushing for action against them, people familiar with the matter said.

Raghavendra, son of Yeddyurappa, is an MP from Shimoga while Udasi is an MP from Haveri, from where Yeddyurappa formally launched the breakaway party, on 9 December last year.

Shivakumar is the son of C. M. Udasi, who served as a minister in the BJP government before joining forces with Yeddyurappa, along with then minister Shobha Karandlaje and some 10 MLAs.

C. M. Udasi is contesting from Hanagal assembly segment on KJP ticket.

The Congress on the other hand said it was its strategy not to declare its choice for the post in the run-up to 5 May in the polls in which it hopes to come back to power.

“We haven’t declared our chief ministerial candidate. This is our poll strategy.... We have a combined leadership and everybody participates in the election process," Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee President G. Parameshwara told reporters here.

Parameshwara was replying to a question on the Congress’ reluctance to name its chief ministerial candidate.

The Congress “has a strong high command" which was competent enough to select a leader, Parameshwara said. “All of us will definitely respect their decision," he said.

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