Eshwarappa says BJP will form next government in Karnataka by banking on ‘Hindutva and Modi wave’

Eshwarappa, who is likely to face a neck-and-neck race in his constituency here in the May 12 Assembly polls, said he has never asked for any particular post in the party but only wished to see the party come back to power with absolute majority.

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Senior Karnataka BJP leader KS Eshwarappa

Senior Karnataka BJP leader K S Eshwarappa today said the party would form the next government securing absolute majority by banking on the “Hindutva and Modi wave”. Eshwarappa, who is likely to face a neck-and-neck race in his constituency here in the May 12 Assembly polls, said he has never asked for any particular post in the party but only wished to see the party come back to power with absolute majority. The former deputy chief minister and Leader of Opposition in the Karnataka Legislative Council said the BJP was banking strongly on “Hindutva and Modi wave” to win comfortably to form the government without seeking support from the JD(S) headed by former prime minister H D Deve Gowda.

The 70-year-old Eshwarappa, who hails from the powerful Kuruba community, said he was confident of defeating the sitting Congress MLA B Prasanna Kumar in Shimoga constituency with a huge margin. Last time, Eshwarappa had lost to Kumar by 6,000 votes. Dismissing opinion polls, he asserted that there would be no hung assembly and people would give a clear verdict to form the government for the next five years.

“In Shivamogga, all castes are with the BJP. Our concept of Hindutva embraces people of all castes including Muslims, Christians and minorities. Unfortunately, the Congress has wrongly interpreted this and is misleading the public against us,” Eshwarappa told PTI in an interview amid electioneering here. Eshwarappa said there was no “polarisation game” being played in the polls. “Since 1999, we have fought elections keeping aside Muslims. We never expected Muslim votes despite which we have been supporting them,” he said.

Eshwarappa had launched the ‘Rayanna Brigade’ naming it after the 18th Century warrior and freedom fighter Sangolli Rayanna, who belonged to his ‘Kuruba’ community, at the height of his feud with state party chief B S Yeddyurappa. Later, he gave a quiet burial to it after the party central leadership intervened, with both Eshwarappa and Yeddyurappa calling a truce. Asked if the BJP was losing a strong support base of Lingayats, he said, “The demand for minority religion status to Lingayats is a cynical ploy by the Congress to divide the community. It will boomerang badly.”

He said people are not much bothered about it at least in Shivamogga, dominated by the Lingayat community. Stepping up its Hindutva narrative in the elections, Eshwarappa also said the “NAMO” factor would also be the key for BJP’s victory in the state. The Modi wave is strong in the state, he claimed. Modi has a strong emotional connect with public despite many people not being able to understand his Hindi speeches. “Their burning desire is to save Hindutva and they believe it is possible under Modi’s leadership.” Asked about infighting and dissatisfaction over ticket distribution among BJP members, Eshwarappa said it was more prominent and visible in the Congress.

“Discussion and arguments are part of the democratic system. That does not mean there is conflict within BJP. Infighting is more in Congress and visible during ticket distribution…the way Siddarmaiah, Kharge and Moily camps were fighting for tickets,” he said. Asked about his aspiration to become chief minister, Eshwarappa, once considered to be an alternative power centre to his rival B S Yeddyurappa, said he had never asked for particular post so far.

“I have accepted whatever posts given to me by the party. Morever, Yeddyurappa has been declared as CM candidate. It won’t be proper at this point to talk (about my dreams of becoming CM),” he added. Eshwarappa is contesting for a fifth term from Shivamogga, where the incumbent MLA Prasanna Kumar is giving him a tough fight. Eshwarappa’s rival Kumar said he was confident of retaining his seat. “BJP is not fighting elections on development plank but seeking votes from a particular community, Hindus,” he said. He said it shows the weakness of a senior leader like Eshwarappa that he cannot win elections in his individual capacity and has to depend on the Modi wave, he added.

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