Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar, who is leading the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Assembly election campaign, claims the party has galloped back into reckoning after the troublesome episode of infighting and the subsequent split. In an interview with The Hindu, he says the party has recovered lost ground.

Excerpts from the interview:

Q BJP started the poll campaign for the second-term on the wrong foot, losing senior leaders and also getting drubbed in the urban local body (ULB) polls. What is the situation now?

A It is true that the BJP started the campaign after losing the ULB elections, but surprisingly the party has galloped back into reckoning gaining strength day by day as the election day is nearing, and we have recovered almost all the lost ground in the State.

Q Do you have confidence that the people have forgiven the BJP?

A It is true that the people were not happy with the BJP, but all that has changed now and the tide has turned in favour of the BJP due to the clean and effective governance provided during the tenure of D.V. Sadananda Gowda and myself.

People want a stable government and the BJP is the only party that can give a stable and corruption-free government.

Q Don’t you think the BJP manifesto is full of gimmicks?

A We have made a sincere and honest attempt in presenting our vision before the people. We have not indulged in any gimmick and what we have promised would be implemented in the next five years if BJP is voted back to power.

Q Which are the areas in which the party is weak and what efforts have been made to regain lost ground?

A In Central Karnataka, the party was weak and we are making an all-out effort to win back lost ground there.

Q Is the BJP missing seasoned campaigner B.S. Yeddyurappa in the election campaign. Do you think the BJP has lost its clout among the Lingayats?

A The BJP has never depended on personalities to win elections…We are not facing any deficiencies in the campaign due to the absence of Mr. Yeddyurappa, who was projected by the party in the earlier election as its leader. The growth of the BJP has been steady in the State and this growth cannot be erased in one election.

Q What would be the role of money and muscle power in the coming elections?

A Money and muscle power alone cannot win the elections this time.

The Election Commission has done a wonderful job to ensure free and fair elections, not withstanding complaints of excesses and overzealousness in implementing the model code of conduct in a few parts of the State. In Gulbarga city, even my car was checked by election authorities… I welcome this.

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