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No Ticket for Janardhana Reddy, But Can't Stop Him from Campaigning, Says BJP Karnataka In-Charge Muralidhar Rao

"We are expecting 150+ seats. Our confidence is increasing day by day. In a way Rahul Gandhi and Siddaramaiah are helping our efforts. Congress is not united and it is not working at the grassroots," said Rao.

Deepa Balakrishnan | CNN-News18deepab18

Updated:April 12, 2018, 2:20 PM IST
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No Ticket for Janardhana Reddy, But Can't Stop Him from Campaigning, Says BJP Karnataka In-Charge Muralidhar Rao
File photo of BJP's Karnataka-in-charge Muralidhar Rao.
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As the Battle for Karnataka draws nearer, one of the BJP's key strategists Muralidhar Rao, the Karnataka in-charge for the party, speaks to CNN-News18's Deepa Balakrishnan on a range of issues, including the involvement of mining barons Reddy brothers in the campaign to ticket distribution to tainted candidates. Edited excerpts:

What value does Janardhana Reddy hold in the party? You said there is no ticket for Reddy, but he seems to have backdoor access to top leaders. He is actively campaigning for the party in many places.

BJP is supported by many people. It’s not that every leader knows who is supporting us and who is not. This is an important thing we have to understand. We cannot equate Somashekara Reddy, who is sitting MLA of BJP, with the other Reddy. Somashekara is a sitting MLA and we have given him a ticket. Similarly, Karunakara Reddy is the part of our executive. So I don't want to equate all these cases and bundle them together. They will be working for the victory of BJP.

Why are you allowing Janardhana Reddy to campaign?

Who can stop him from campaigning? Campaigning is very wide and it is not a restricted thing. There are a lot of people who are working for the party’s victory. I am not saying that he is a nameless person, but I cannot control every person who’s campaigning for BJP.

You have said that your campaign is against the Congress’ corruption, but your own CM candidate B S Yeddyurappa is facing an investigation by the Income Tax department.

All these are just allegations. We haven’t received any notice from the court. He is cleared of all charges. The people and the party see him as a leader of the entire state of Karnataka. He is more popular than any other individual leader in the state.

In your list of candidates, there are many tainted individuals like Y Sampangi, B S Yeddyurappa, Katta Subramanya Naidu and Krishnaiah Setty. Doesn’t that undermine your campaign?

We have gone into details of each case before releasing the candidate list. All these issues are outdated. BJP will stand by all the candidates.

It’s only a few weeks before voting takes place in Karnataka. What’s the response you are getting from the ground?

We are expecting 150+ seats. Our confidence is increasing day by day. In a way Rahul Gandhi and Siddaramaiah are helping our efforts. Congress is not united and it is not working at the grassroots.

One of the campaign issues raised by the Congress is that of the minority status for Lingayats. Why isn’t BJP making its stand on the issue clear?

We don’t have to react. Here the people have realised that Congress has granted separate religion status to Lingayats because they are not confident of winning the election. We don’t want to make this an election issue because this is not something that a single party can decide. This is an issue where we have to involve various cultural, spiritual and religious leaders. We also have to involve non-political and social leadership.

But people are curious to know where BJP stands on this crucial issue.

BJP hasn’t taken a position. We have differed with the procedure followed by the Siddaramaiah government. We have declared everything transparently. BJP President Amit Shah has said that the issue will be discussed after the elections, when the new government takes office. We will relook the whole proposal. State Cabinet approved it and by the time it reached the Central government the elections were declared. We have to understand that code of conduct is into place. Now even the Congress government is not eager as it has realised that the whole issue is working against them.
| Edited by: Ahona Sengupta
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