Confidence stems from the Congress’ troubles: Chief Minister

Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar on Saturday claimed that the Bharatiya Janata Party would do better in the Assembly elections scheduled for May 5 than in the 2008 polls — its best performance ever. He predicted between 120 and 135 seats for the party in the 224-member Assembly (against the tally of 110 in 2008).

At an informal interaction with media persons here, Mr. Shettar said the party was hopeful of increasing its tally mainly in the Bombay Karnataka region, especially Belgaum district, and also in Chitradurga, Tumkur and some areas around Bangalore. “You will also see surprise gains for the party,” he said. This confidence, he said, followed from “the mess” in the Congress over distribution of ticket, and the competition among Congress leaders for the Chief Minister’s post. He claimed that the BJP government had done well on infrastructure development in the last five years despite its internal crises.

Asked how he expected people to support a party whose government’s image had been sullied by infighting and the presence of “tainted” personalities in the Ministry, the Chief Minister said with the quitting of the former Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa, the party had put this problem behind it.

“We have rectified the mistake. While D.V. Sadananda Gowda gave a clean image to the party government in his 11-month rule, I have managed to give stability in the last 8 months,” he said.

He said that the Karnataka Janata Paksha of Mr. Yeddyurappa was only trying to “snatch some votes” from the BJP and was not aiming for a win. On being asked if the reason behind the BJP singling out the Congress and not the JD (S) for criticism was that it wanted to keep the option of forging a post-poll alliance with the JD (S) open, Mr. Shettar said the Congress was its main opponent. As for an alliance with the JD (S), he said the people of the State would give a full mandate to the BJP and there would be no hung House.

BJP State president Pralhad Joshi said the party would finalise the campaign programme of all its leaders, including Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

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