Bangalore, Apr 14 UNI | 4 months ago

Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah today said BJP leader B S Yeddyurappa was a 'spent force' and was in no position to lead the party in the April 17 Lok Sabha election in the state and Congress will repeat its fine performance when it won power in last year's Assembly polls.

Mr Yeddyurappa, as the then chief minister, had led BJP to sweep the 2009 Lok Sabha polls ensuring party victory in 19 seats out of a total of 28. While Congress had ended up with just six, Janata Dal three.

Speaking at the meet-the-press programme organised by Press Club of Bangalore and Bangalore Reporters' Guild here, he said he was confident Congress will repeat its 2013 Assembly election results and bag at least 20 Lok Sabha seats.

'Return of Mr Yeddyurappa and B Sriramulu back in BJP cannot help the party gain the lost ground. They are tainted leaders and people will reject them,' he said.

The Chief Minister came down heavily on BJP which claimed that the party had become clean after the exit of the two leaders two years ago and conveniently removed the 'tainted' tag. 'This will not work,' he said.

He said taken the Assembly polls as barometer, Congress which won 122 seats out of 224 assembly seats, it should win 22 Lok Sabha seats. 'I will be happy with 20,' he said.

He, however, said the outcome of the Lok Sabha election in Karnataka will not be a referendum on his tenure as the chief minister as the two elections were fought on different issues.

Mr Siddaramaiah, who is leading the Congress campaign, has high stakes in this election as a poor show could endanger his seat. Congress high command had reportedly instructed the chief ministers of 11 states where it is in power to ensure maximum number of wins or 'face the axe'.

He condemned BJP state leaders, whom he said had no strength to fight the election on their own but depended too much on prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.

Claiming that many pro-poor programmes launched by his party have reached the targeted groups and will be helping Congress in the elections, Mr Siddaramaiah said people would not forget the 'illegal and immoral' acts of the erstwhile BJP government in Karnataka so easily.

To another question on literateurs supporting and campaigning for Congress, Mr Siddaramaiah said they too were citizens of the country and had the freedom of expression.

The Congress leader denied that the party was weaning away Janata Dal (S) candidates and forcing them to retire from contest.

He said the Belgaum JD (S) candidate Naseer Bagwan approached the party leaders voluntarily claiming to have been side lined in the party. On the other hand, JD (S) Uttara Kannada candidate supported the BJP after withdrawing the nomination in the last moment. 'This shows lack of confidence on part of JD (S) leaders on their own party and its President Mr H D Devegowda,' he said.

(Posted on 14-04-2014)