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Photo: Arijit Sen/HT
Photo: Arijit Sen/HT

Karnataka has now become Congress-mukt: Yeddyurappa

B.S. Yeddyurappa says the BJP is ready for re-elections and are confident of winning 160-170 seats out of the total 224 constituencies in Karnataka

BENGALURU : The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), having won 25 out of the total 28 parliamentary seats in Karnataka, is waiting for the H.D. Kumaraswamy-led coalition government to collapse so that it can return to power in the state.

The results in Karnataka give the party a base from where it can launch attempts to enter other south Indian states where it has limited presence.

State BJP president B.S. Yeddyurappa, a 76-year-old Lingayat strongman, faces some opposition within his own party, but is now looking at another possibility to return as the chief minister. In a short telephone interview with Mint, he spoke about the election results, the trouble within the Janata Dal(Secular)-Congress coalition and the way forward for the BJP in Karnataka. Edited excerpts:

Did you expect such a massive victory in Karnataka?

For the last two months, I have maintained that we will win over 22 seats, but no one believed me. I travelled the state and even said that H.D. Deve Gowda, M.Veerappa Moily and Mallikarjun Kharge will lose. When I resigned as chief minister (in May 2018), I told them (Congress and JDS) that we will win a majority of the Lok Sabha seats. I had also told the Congress that the father-son duo (Deve Gowda and Kumaraswamy) will finish off the national party and it came true.

What is the next course of action for the BJP in Karnataka?

On 2-3 June, we have called for a meeting of all members of the legislative assembly, council and Parliament from the party to discuss drought-related issues facing the state. This government has turned a blind eye towards the drought and is busy taking commission from shady ‘deals’. Our party will discuss the way forward.

What about disgruntled legislators such as Ramesh Jarkiholi (of the Congress)? Is he likely to join the BJP?

All of this is just rumour. They (disgruntled legislators) have lost confidence in their party. We are also hearing all of this through the media. We have not called anybody. He (Jarkiholi) has been making statements on his own and it’s his decision to resign or not. We are not going to make any move on this. I will be going to Delhi for the swearing-in ceremony (of Prime Minister Narendra Modi) and will seek their (national leadership’s) view on what needs to be done next.

How long do you think this government will last?

It’s going to be very difficult for this government to continue. I can barely see it managing to make it beyond 15 days to a month. It is very difficult to continue once they have lost confidence and trust in each other. They are trying to move beyond by making compromises, but this will not last very long. We have to just wait and watch what happens.

Trends from the Lok Sabha indicated that the BJP was leading in at least 170 assembly segments in the state. Has this bolstered your confidence if the state goes for re-polls?

We are ready for elections and are confident of winning 160-170 seats out of the total 224 constituencies in the state. The voters have given their verdict in the parliamentary polls and the JD(S)-Congress lost the people’s mandate last year as well. Now they are trying to compromise and move forward even though they lost the mandate.

Will you ally with the JD(S) to form the government?

There is no question at all of allying with the JD(S). We have already experienced this once (2006-08) and have paid the price for it. There is no question of an alliance with anybody. We will come to power on our own.

Has the BJP succeeded in making the Karnataka Congress-free?

Karnataka has already achieved on this front. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had (earlier) called for a ‘Congress-mukt Bharat’ and we have now become Congress-mukt Karnataka.

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