India: Congress will win at least 130 seats in Karnataka; gateway to south for BJP will be closed, says Veerappa Moily

Senior Congress leader and former Union minister alleges 'total failure of governance' under the Basavaraj Bommai government in state, claiming rampant corruption with the BJP dispensation 'classified as a 40 per cent commission' one

By PTI

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Published: Mon 17 Apr 2023, 1:52 AM

Asserting that "winds of change" are blowing in Karnataka, senior Congress leader M Veerappa Moily on Sunday claimed that his party will win at least 130 seats in the upcoming assembly polls and the gateway to South India for the BJP will be "totally closed".

He also asserted that Karnataka has always played a crucial role in the formation of the government at the Centre and a victory in the upcoming assembly polls there will pave the way for the formation of a Congress-led government in 2024.

In an interview with PTI, former Karnataka chief minister Moily predicted that the Congress would not get any less than 130 seats in the 224-member assembly while the BJP would not cross the 60-mark in the May 10 assembly polls.

He also accused the Janata Dal (Secular) of colluding with the BJP and said people will reject the H D Deve Gowda-led outfit's "politics of opportunism".

"The winds of change are blowing in favour of the Congress. The BJP is totally in tatters. There is no unity and solidarity in the rank and file of the BJP and many of them are quitting after being denied tickets and seeking shelter under the Congress or some other party," Moily said.

Alleging a total failure of governance under the Basavaraj Bommai government of Karnataka, the former Union minister claimed "corruption is rampant" in the state with the BJP dispensation "classified as a 40 per cent commission" one.

The BJP talked about a double engine government but could not get a single project cleared, he claimed.

"Not even a single big industry has come up (under BJP rule), no jobs have been created and many of the vacancies are still pending including that of teachers. Corruption is the talk of every street in Karnataka," Moily alleged.

He said that even after the judgment in a tribunal giving Karnataka more share of water from the Krishna river, the BJP government has not issued a notification as a result of which the state has been denied its legitimate share of water.

Asked about the BJP banking on the 'Modi factor' and how the Congress would overcome a campaign blitz by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Moily said, "I don't think in Karnataka that will happen. They tried it in Tamil Nadu but could not succeed. They came with the same factor and Amit Shah and Modi ran a high voltage campaign in Kerala but could not succeed. It also did not click in Himachal Pradesh and West Bengal." "With the Karnataka elections, the gateway to South India for the BJP will be totally closed," he asserted.

Asked about the reported infighting in the Congress and both former CM Siddaramaiah and Karnataka Congress chief D K Shivakumar vying for chief ministership, Moily said the BJP has been talking about this but there is no substance in such talk.

"They (Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar) are going together for campaigning, there is no evidence of any fight between them," he said.

Moily said both Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar are claimants to the post of CM but it is for the newly-elected MLAs to decide before the AICC observers as to who would get the top job in the state.

While ruling himself out as being an aspirant of the CM post, Moily asserted that he was working to ensure that a Congress government is formed.

Moily, who is a member of the party's central election committee, also rejected suggestions that there were major disagreements over ticket distribution.

"By and large there was no problem apart from one or two cases," he said.

His remarks come amid reports that Siddaramaiah and Shivkumar drew a hard bargain for their respective supporters to get tickets and also there was much back and forth over whether Siddaramaiah should contest from two seats - Varuna and Kolar.

However, it was eventually decided that Siddaramaiah would contest from one seat and settled for Varuna.

Moily also stressed that the polls would be fought on local issues.

Accusing the Centre of seeking a merger between Amul and Karnataka Milk Federation brand Nandini, the Congress leader also said it became a controversy because Union Home Minister Amit Shah "indicated a merger".

"People suspect that if the BJP comes back to power, they will allow Amit Shah's wish to come true. Nandini in Karnataka is the best, there is no need for a merger," he said.

Hitting out at JD(S) leader and former CM HD Kumaraswamy, Moily said even when the JD(S) was the junior partner, the Congress made him the chief minister but he failed to manage the government which was given to him on a "platter".

The people will reject their politics of opportunism, he claimed.

"The behaviour particularly of Deve Gowda is to favour the BJP to safeguard the interests of his family. No raids have been conducted on the properties of his family that itself shows they are favouring the BJP," Moily alleged.

Asked what message would the Karnataka polls send out for 2024, Moily said, "If you look at the history, Karnataka has always played a crucial role in the formation of the government at the Centre.

"The victory in Karnataka will pave the way for the formation of a Congress-led government at the Centre in 2024," he claimed.

"The Karnataka success of the Congress will blow the first whistle for the fall of the NDA government at the Centre," Moily said.

Later, addressing a gathering in Kolar, Rahul Gandhi also said the Congress would be voted to power in the coming Assembly elections, and the new government would formally approve its poll promises in the first cabinet meeting itself.

Gandhi also attacked the Basavaraj Bommai government over corruption issues, including allegations by contractors and private schools that they were forced to pay "40 per cent commission".

In the outgoing 224-member assembly, the BJP currently has 119 seats, followed by the Congress with 75 and the JD (S) with 28 seats. Two seats are vacant.

The Congress is seeking to wrest power from the BJP in Karnataka, the only southern state where the saffron party is in power.

While polling for the Karnataka assembly polls would take place on May 10, the counting of votes would take place on May 13.

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