Bengaluru/New Delhi: With the Election Commission declaring assembly elections in Karnataka on May 10, leaders of BJP, Congress and Janata Dal-Secular exuded confidence of their performance in the southern state which is among the bigger states that will go the polls this year.
The Karnataka verdict will be crucial for national ambitions of BJP and Congress for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.
BJP rules the southern state and Congress also has several senior and strong leaders in Karnataka. The elections are also significant for Congress as party chief Mallikarjun Kharge hails from Karnataka and the party has launched a major attack on the BJP over a range of issues including disqualification of Rahul Gandhi, Hindenburg-Adani row and misuse of central agencies.
In his remarks, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that BJP is committed to furthering the growth journey of Karnataka and to empower the poor and marginalised sections of the society.
He said Karnataka is a powerhouse of development thanks to the hardworking people of the state and the BJP will seek votes based on the party's development agenda.
PM Modi made the remarks in response to tweet by Karnataka BJP.
"BJP is committed to furthering the growth journey of Karnataka and to empower the poor, marginalised and downtrodden. We will seek people's blessings based on our development agenda," he said in a tweet.
The BJP in Karnataka expressed confidence of its victory in the polls.
"The date of lotus blooming in the state is fixed! Kannadigas are eager to bless with a clear majority. The cadre of workers is ready to work day and night from today to bring the party to power. Karnataka will win," the party said in a tweet.
Karnataka assembly has 224 seats. The ruling BJP has 119 MLAs, Congress has 75 and Janata Dal-Secular has 28 seats.
Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai also exuded confidence of winning the polls.
"BJP is an ever-ready party with strong organisation and we are prepared for the polls. We have done a lot of campaigns where the response of the people was tremendous. The double-engine government has done a good job in terms of infrastructure and others. People cutting across all sections have shown a great deal of support. I am sure that on May 13, BJP will get an absolute majority," Bommai said.
Bommai accused Congresss of spreading a canard that a community will be dropped from the SC list and categorically said "there is no question of removing any community from the list."
In his remarks, Kharge expressed confidence of Congress victory in the state.
"Congress is making efforts to highlight the corruption of the BJP government. Our workers have worked at the booth level. We have all possibility of us winning the elections which is why the Prime Minister is sending his cabinet ministers to Karnataka and he himself and the Home Minister is visiting the state," he said.
Priyank Kharge, Chittapur MLA, said that Kharge and party leader Rahul Gandhi want the party to secure at least 150 seats in the state.
"We are winning this election. The people of Karnataka are fed up with the 40 per cent government, BJP playing the caste politics, and unemployment is at its highest. This time it is going to be Congress all the way. Khargeji and Rahulji want 150 seats delivered from Karnataka. The chief minister will be decided by the party high command later," he said.
Congress leader BK Hariprasad hit out at the BJP and alleged it is the "mother of corruption" in the country.
"We're ahead of BJP in the state as we started our election campaign exercise three years ago after DK Shivakumar took over as the party's state president. The exercise to select election candidates has been underway for the past six months. The party's screening committee will finalise everything soon," he said.
"BJP is the mother of corruption in the country. It does not believe in development programmes but in the purchasing of MLAs," Hariprasad alleged.
Janata Dal (Secular) leader and former Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy said both BJP and Congress will be rejected and the people will elect a regional party.
"This time, Kannadigas have decided and are mentally prepared to elect a regional party, and both the national parties will be rejected. Both BJP and Congress are saying that we are the B-Team of the other, but I would like to say that we are the B-Team of Kannadigas," he said.
Congress general secretary KC Venugopal accused the BJP of "use and throw" formula for former chief minister BS Yediyurappa
"Yediyurappa is the tallest leader of the BJP (in Karnataka). But they used him only to get some Lingayat votes. Why did they unseat Yediyurappa just a year before the election? They told him to resign. Why? Now they are saying Yediyurappa is our biggest leader. Where is the logic in this? People will understand the 'use and throw' policy of BJP," Venugopal told ANI.
He said the Congress party is confident of forming the government on its own in the upcoming polls.
"We are very confident of forming the government on our own strength. We have been in the field over the last one year, garnering public support ahead of the Karnataka elections. Karnataka is being ruled by one of the most corrupt governments ever. People are saying that this government is 40-per cent corrupt. There is definitely a wave in favour of the Congress. We will win Karnataka hands down," he said.
The Congress leader added that the previous government led by former chief minister Siddaramaiah had provided a clean administration.
"We gave the most progressive, development-oriented and inclusive government to Karnataka. We will continue in a similar vein if voted back and, in fact, take it a notch above. We aren't just going for negative campaigns. We are focussing on our poll promises, topping which is to strive to make Karnataka one of the best states," Venugopal said.
He added that party leader Rahul Gandhi will also campaign for the party in the poll-bound state.
"All our senior leaders will campaign in Karnataka. We should have a clear campaign plan. Rahul Gandhi will, in all certainty, campaign for Karnataka polls," he added.
Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi, who hails from Karnataka, expressed confidence of BJP victory.
"BJP is ready for Karnataka elections. The party will form the government with an absolute majority once again in the state," Joshi told ANI.
The Election Commission of India announced the schedule for the Karnataka Assembly elections. The polling will take place in a single phase on May 10, Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar said on Wednesday. The counting of votes will be done on May 13.
The CEC said the state has 5.21 crores the number of 100 plus voters is 16,976.He informed that over 58,000 polling stations would be set up across the state.