The BJP is fighting the Karnataka elections on a developmental agenda and not on communalism but it is focussing on the Hindus because for the Muslims Siddaramaiah is the leader, Karnataka BJP MP and Union minister Shobha Karandlaje has told News18.
In an exclusive interview, she said Muslims have confidence that “we will rule once Siddaramaiah comes back” and accused the former CM of withdrawing cases against the Popular Front of India (PFI) and setting “thousands of terrorists free.”
Shobha Karandlaje told News18 that for the BJP, “Kamal (lotus) is the CM face”, and warned that the Congress would use Karnataka “as an ATM” if it wins. She further said Prime Minister Narendra Modi and former chief minister BS Yediyurappa will help the BJP to come to power.
Amid the Amul controversy in the state, she said Nandini brand was the “pride of Karnataka” and Amul was only present in the online space.
Q. Congress seems to suggest it has already won in Karnataka.
A: Congress is overconfident. They are fighting amongst themselves and to hide that, they are giving such statements. Every day, Siddaramaiah and DK Shivakumar are fighting for distribution of tickets, over who will go in what area and whose supporter is benefitted. MB Patil has also pitched himself as the CM candidate and now there is a fight over the CM chair between more than four persons in the Congress.
Q. But it is not clear who is the CM face in the BJP either?
A: For us, ‘Kamal’ (Lotus, BJP’s symbol) is the CM. We are not fighting for the leadership or the ‘Kursi’ (chair). We are fighting to come to power for the sake of development and country’s security. We want every scheme to reach the last citizen. They (Congress) want power to make Karnataka an ATM card for the Congress. This is what had happened earlier. But we will repeat our government in Karnataka like we did recently in Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Uttarakhand and Tripura.
Q. BJP is being accused of running a communal campaign.
A: We are very clear, we are going on a developmental agenda, not communalism. But we are focussing on Hindus…because in my own district, many Hindus were killed in the time of Siddaramaiah as the CM. I cannot forget that. Many youths were killed. The parents are suffering. Siddaramaiah took back the PFI cases in the cabinet. Nearly 166 cases were taken back and 1,700 PFI terrorists were released from jail.
Who is the Muslim leader? For Muslims, Siddaramaiah is the leader. That much confidence they have got…that once Siddaramaiah comes back, rule of Muslims will be back…that ‘we will rule’. In my village, Muslims are saying ‘another one month, then we will see’. They are coming to the road when I am travelling that much dare-ness for some of the communal Muslims in my area. This is only because of Siddaramaiah.
Q: There is a corruption charge against the BJP in Karnataka?
A: People talking about corruption are themselves corrupt. Who shut down the Lokayukta? It was Siddaramaiah who made the ACB to hide his own corruption. We brought Lokayukta back. Even our leader was booked by Lokayukta, this is an example. We strengthened Lokayukta. Country’s history is corruption and corruption is Congress.
Q: What are you telling the voters as your prime agenda?
A: We will come back because of our development agenda. Both BS Yediyurappa and BS Bommai have worked towards that to get the confidence of the people. Development is only possible through a double-engine. The Centre under Prime Minister Narendra Modi is sending so much money, who will spend it wisely? States under the opposition keep fighting with Modi. I am in charge of Kerala and I see people saying they do not get benefits of the scheme from the Modi government and they are not aware of them.
Look at West Bengal, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh — we don’t want Karnataka to be like this. The state has lost many years earlier. We are best state for investment, many infrastructure projects, airports, and highways are coming up. Remember when Siddaramaiah was the chief minister? He never went to meetings called by the prime minister. He does not have respect for Modi. Karnataka’s development will suffer under Congress.
Q: Congress has said it will bring back the 4% reservation for Muslims that you have scrapped.
A: I ask DK Shivakumar, from which category will he remove reservation to give it back to Muslims? From Lingayats, Vokkaligas or Scheduled Castes? Let them put it in their manifesto, I dare them. They did the reservation only for vote bank politics and it should not be a precedent for other states.
Q: How important is the BS Yediyurappa factor in these elections?
A: People and our workers like him. In all areas, people are asking him to be brought for the campaign. Age may matter for chief ministership but not for campaign. At 80, he is asking when he can work, and about youth workers? They are inspired by him. He is in parliamentary board and respected at the highest level. He has said he will extensively travel all across Karnataka and bring back our government and work till 2024 like this only to bring back the Modi government. Both Modi and Yediyurappa will help to come back to power in Karnataka.
Q: What about Basavaraj Bommai? Does he not have the same charisma?
A: Bommai is the chief minister. He has done good work, he is also a candidate and he will contest. We cannot compare leaders; Yediyurappa is Yediyurappa, and he has worked for 50 years.
Q: The Amul issue has become a big one with many saying it is being imposed on the state at the cost of Nandini brand.
A: Amul is right now only online in Karnataka. Nandini is Karnataka’s pride. Nandini and KMF have grown in our government. Farmers are getting now Rs 5 per litre incentive in our government and have gone for more cows and buffalos.
‘We have to grow like Amul’ — that is what Amit Shah had said. We are selling milk now. Amit Shah said don’t depend only on milk, prepare more items like sweets and milk powder which has more demand in other parts of the country and don’t depend only on Karnataka marketing. He said you extend your market to other parts of the country — that was intention of Amit Shah as he is the cooperative minister. He wanted to grow Nandini and KMF by saying they can do even more than Amul.
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