PM Modi, Amit Shah "Not Popular" In Karnataka: Siddaramaiah To NDTV

Siddaramaiah is the first Karnataka chief minister in nearly four decades to complete a full 5-year term and carries his party's hopes for the coming elections. For the Congress, a victory is crucial in view of next year's Lok Sabha polls.

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Mr Siddaramaiah has told NDTV his real rival is BJP's BS Yeddyurappa (File)


Bengaluru: 

Highlights

  1. "Prime Minister is not a popular figure in state," Siddaramaiah to NDTV
  2. Assembly elections in Karnataka on Saturday, May 12
  3. PM Modi, Amit Shah have extensively campaigned in Karnataka
The battle for Karnataka is widely seen as a contest between Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, who is hoping for a second term in power, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is spearheading the BJP's aggressive campaign in the state. But in an exclusive interview, Mr Siddaramaiah has told NDTV that the Prime Minister is not a popular figure in the state, and his real rival is BS Yeddyurappa, the BJP candidate for the state's top job.

Asked about PM Modi's popularity in the state, Mr Siddaramaiah told NDTV's Prannoy Roy, "No, no, he is not at all popular. His popularity has declined drastically."

BJP chief Amit Shah, he indicated, is in the same boat. Amit Shah's campaign is like a "comedy show" because "nobody takes him seriously", Mr Siddaramaiah said. "He can't make any impact... on voters...  When Modi is not popular, how can Shah become popular here?"

In the last leg of the campaign for Saturday's election, PM Modi has drawn up an extensive list of rallies. Numbering around 20, they cover the length and breadth of the state. In every rally so far, the Prime Minister has said that support for BJP in the state is more like a "tsunami" than a wave.

Party chief Amit Shah has also toured the state extensively. The BJP has also roped in a battery of its senior leaders, including Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, to win back the only state in south where it had once been in power.

A victory in Karnataka will give the BJP positive spin-offs in the next round of assembly elections in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, as well as a firm foothold in the south ahead of next year's Lok Sabha elections.

To that end, the party, in a rare move, projected Mr Yeddyurappa as its chief ministerial candidate long before the elections. Mr Yeddyurappa, who had pushed the BJP to a victory in 2008, returned to its fold after a short break-up. In this campaign, he is seen as being allowed to call key shots, including the fielding of mining baron Reddy brothers and their aides despite corruption allegations.  

Like Mr Yeddyurappa, Mr Siddaramaiah is a veteran political leader of the state. He is also the first Chief Minister in nearly four decades to complete a full 5-year term and carries his party's hopes for the coming elections. For the Congress, a victory is crucial in view of next year's Lok Sabha polls. The 70-year-old, who announced his retirement from electoral politics after the 2013 elections, said he has been persuaded to contest one more election by the party leadership.


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