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EXCLUSIVE | Modi wave absent in 2024 in Karnataka, says CM Siddaramaiah to Asianet News Network

Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah is confident in winning 9-10 seats out of the first phase's 14 constituencies, attributing this to successful state programs and failures of the Modi government. He rebuts Modi's claims about Muslim reservations and accuses him of misleading the public and unjustly withholding drought relief, all while Congress prepares for the election results under the INDIA alliance.

EXCLUSIVE! 'PM Modi's wave is absent in 2024...' Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah speaks to Asianet News network vkp
First Published Apr 29, 2024, 12:03 PM IST

The election for the first phase involving 14 constituencies in the state has concluded, and the momentum for the second phase, covering another 14 constituencies, has commenced. At this juncture, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made attacking the governance of the Siddaramaiah-led Karnataka Congress government a central agenda of his national-level campaign. Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has directly engaged with 'Kannadaprabha' to address questions regarding why Prime Minister Narendra Modi is suggesting that there might be a change in the state's CM position.

Q: The first phase of the election is over. How many seats do you anticipate winning?

Siddaramaiah: We anticipate winning 9 to 10 seats out of the 14 constituencies in the first phase.

Q: What is the basis for this confidence?

Siddaramaiah: Firstly, the state government's guarantee schemes have successfully reached the people. Secondly, there are the failures of the Narendra Modi government at the Centre. Thirdly, the Narendra Modi government has shown an unjust and hateful attitude toward Karnataka, which has upset the people. At the same time, the successful implementation of the guarantee schemes has boosted the people's confidence in the state Congress government, leading us to believe that these achievements are attainable.

Q: The BJP claims that the election is about national issues and not state guarantees. What do you say?

Siddaramaiah: This election is indeed about national issues. However, people have seen what Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government has done in the past 10 years. The BJP has not fulfilled any of the promises made when it came to power in 2014. Prime Minister Modi's claims—such as controlling the rise in prices, doubling farmers' incomes, resolving farmers' issues, and improving the value of the rupee—have all proven empty. Therefore, people are disillusioned with the Modi administration, and this will be reflected in the election results.

Q: Is there still a Modi wave in the state?

Siddaramaiah: No, the Modi wave that was there in 2014 and 2019 is absent in 2024. However, there is a wave for our government's guarantee schemes.

Q: So, could the election results be seen as a mandate for the guarantee schemes?

Siddaramaiah: Yes, the successful implementation of the guarantee schemes has made people happy and they have faith in our administration. We believe they will vote in our favour.

Q: Has attacking the Siddaramaiah government become a main agenda for Prime Minister Modi nationally?

Siddaramaiah: Yes, unfortunately, it has. Prime Minister Modi is misleading the public with falsehoods.

Q: What is he misrepresenting?

Siddaramaiah: He claims that our state government has recently introduced Muslim reservations. However, the policy of providing 4% reservation to Muslims in education and employment was implemented back in 1994, based on the Chinnappa Reddy Commission's report. It was during Deve Gowda's tenure as Chief Minister that this was enacted. Modi is falsely claiming that this was a recent change.

Q: The BJP claims that it stopped the Congress from giving religious reservations to Muslims. Is that true?

Siddaramaiah: Muslim reservation, which had been in effect for three decades, was abolished during Basavaraj Bommai's tenure with the BJP. This decision faced opposition from Muslim leaders who took the matter to the Supreme Court. Subsequently, the Bommai government assured the Supreme Court that they would maintain the status quo concerning Muslim reservations. The term "status quo" implies upholding the existing state of affairs, which includes the continuation of Muslim reservations. Narendra Modi incorrectly asserted that Siddaramaiah is introducing reservations for Muslims despite the ongoing practice maintained by the Bommai administration.  It's worth noting that the Indian Constitution does not contain provisions for reservations based on religion. 

It appears that Narendra Modi may lack a comprehensive understanding of the Indian Constitution. Articles 15 and 16 of the Constitution advocate for reservations to be granted to individuals who are socially and economically disadvantaged. In alignment with this, the Chinnappa Reddy Commission recognized Muslims as a socially and economically backward community. Consequently, a 4% reservation was established three decades ago. This reservation is not based on religion but is rather implemented under the purview of Articles 15 and 16 of the Constitution. By obscuring this reality, Narendra Modi appears to be misleading the populace with inaccurate assertions.

Q: So, if Modi's statements are incorrect, why does he persist?

Siddaramaiah: Modi dislikes the Congress government in Karnataka. His administration has refused to provide adequate drought relief because the state is under Congress leadership, only providing 19 per cent of the requested amount even after judicial intervention. This is a clear injustice.

Q: What will your government do regarding the insufficient compensation?

Siddaramaiah: We will continue to protest this injustice by the central government and have already taken the matter to the Supreme Court.

Q: Modi also stated that Siddaramaiah will be replaced as the Chief Minister and the Deputy Chief Minister will be the new CM in Karnataka after the elections.. Your response?

Siddaramaiah: When the BJP was in power here, Prime Minister Modi himself changed the chief ministers. It's ironic he now criticizes our party. We will follow whatever the Congress High Command decides.

Q: Modi mentioned a lack of leadership in the Congress at the national level.

Siddaramaiah: Leadership has evolved in every party. Just as Vajpayee and Advani led the BJP before Modi, today, our AICC President Mallikarjun Kharge and Rahul Gandhi are capable leaders who can guide the country.

Q: If Congress wins, who will be Prime Minister?

Siddaramaiah: If the BJP and NDA emerge victorious that's another scenario. If they do by chance Narendra Modi has declared himself as the Prime Minister. However, the Congress is part of an alliance named INDIA. Consequently, it's not feasible to designate any individual as the Prime Minister due to the alliance's structure. Following the election results, a collective decision-making process will ensue to formulate a common minimum program and select leadership. However, is the INDI alliance meeting expectations? What's the significance of this? Presently, Mamata Banerjee hasn't been allocated a seat. Will they align with the BJP post-elections? No. They will likely remain aligned with INDIA. How many seats can Congress secure on a national level? I cannot specify an exact figure, but Congress is poised to attain a substantial majority to establish a government when anti-BJP parties unite.

Q: How effective is the BJP-JDS alliance in the state?

Siddaramaiah: Nothing seems to be effective. Until now, the BJP and JD(S) have conflicted with each other. If they suddenly ally, how can the people trust them? This alliance appears to be driven by self-interest. JD(S) seems to be engaging in opportunistic politics. JDS leaders have suggested that if they hadn't aligned with the BJP, the Congress would have obliterated their party. What does "obliterate" imply in this context? Isn't it the responsibility of the ruling party to undermine the opposition? We will weaken both the BJP and the JD(S).

Q: What about the case involving JDS MP Prajwal Revanna?

Siddaramaiah: We have initiated an SIT investigation into the allegations against Revanna. The government will not interfere with the investigation, and action will be taken based on its findings.

Q: Have ministers' children and relatives received priority for this election?

Siddaramaiah: Who is Lakshman, who received a ticket from Mysore? Who is Gautham? Aren't they all party workers? This time, while allocating tickets, we have prioritized MLAs, individuals who lost in the last assembly elections, district presidents, block presidents, and ministers-in-charge, among others, who were recommended by the locals. It is not possible to go against the opinion of the locals. Many ministers' children stood for election. My son Yathindra never expressed the intention to run for election. He didn't even request a ticket.

Q: What are your thoughts on the political future of your son Yathindra?

Siddaramaiah: Yathindra chose not to contest this election and has supported me instead. The Congress High Command will decide his future in politics after evaluating the election results.

Q: Do you believe the Neha case will have an impact?

Siddaramaiah: The Neha case is indeed unfortunate, and we strongly condemn the incident. We acted swiftly by apprehending the accused immediately. The investigation has been entrusted to the CID, and a special court has been established. We are taking all necessary legal actions to ensure the perpetrators are brought to justice.

Q: How many seats do you expect Congress to win in both phases?

Siddaramaiah: We have received information suggesting that a total of 20 seats could be won.

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