Refuting claims of being an "outsider" in poll-bound Karnataka, Congress leader and Bangalore South Lok Sabha candidate BK Hariprasad on Wednesday said that his main rival in the ongoing polls is Prime Minister Narendra Modi, not debutant and his BJP opponent from the seat, Tejasvi Surya.
In coalition with the JD(S), the Congress leader, speaking exclusively to ANI, said he hopes that his party's combined vote share and possible disgruntlement against Surya will take it past the halfway mark in the Bangalore South seat that has been BJP's bastion since 1991.
On being asked whether he is "bali ka bakra" (sacrificial goat) in the BJP's bastion, the Congress leader said, "People who don't know Bangalore say that Bangalore South is a bastion of the BJP. Earlier, Mr Ananth Kumar was Urban Development Minister. He won only five seats in corporation elections. Devegowda ji had won 6 and we had won 56. So people who don't know Bangalore speak this way."
Speculations were rife that Modi may contest in the general elections from Bangalore South seat, due to which Congress fielded Hariprasad from the said seat. In response to this, Hariprasad told ANI, "Yes. This is true. I have been fighting him from 2002 onwards."
When asked whether he is disappointed to know that his rival is not Modi but Surya in the ensuing polls, Hariprasad said, "I am fighting Modi and his party because they do not have any other face. Every candidate says that it is not his election, its Modi's election. So, I fight Modi, I fight BJP. "
In response to another question of Bangalore South Lok Sabha seat grabbing eyeballs nationally because of his rival Surya, Hariprasad said, "It was popular because of other reasons not because my opponent is youngest or I am old. That's not the issue. The issue is the reasons they know better. I don't want to say all those things."
"Forget about Bangalore, anywhere in India nobody says that they are a candidate, they say it is Modi, who is fighting the elections because they do not have the face. If they had such faces definitely they would have said that people should vote for them. You can just go through the campaign, they never ask for a vote for themselves, they said vote for Modi," he added.
Hariprasad questioned Modi's silence over his development programmes and his much talked about schemes like Goods and Services Tax (GST) and demonetisation.
"This election is about Delhi. People had experimented, they wanted one full term for the BJP to rule but after five years of experience, now, they are so disappointed as they just want to throw out this government in Delhi because Modi had no guts to say what exactly he has done for this country. He says that he has got 56-inch chest but not even once he dared to address a press conference. The media is the mirror of society. He should have briefed the media. He never talks of demonetisation or GST," he said.
"From the Congress, it is Rahul Gandhi who would be the Prime Ministerial candidate, rest of the parties have got their own candidates. So, there is nothing wrong. It is a democratic setup, not a dictatorship," he said.
Talking at length about the 'mahagathbandhan' (grand alliance), Hariprasad said, "Well, we are fighting the elections under 'mahagathbandhan'. There is gathbandhan between Congress and JD (S) here. In some places, there are understandings. It is called Mahagathbandhan, we might have not announced but we are all fighting against the BJP ideologically. The people are fighting ideologically against the BJP. The people ideologically fighting against Modi and the members of this 'mahagathbandhan' will decide who will be the Prime Minister."
On being asked to respond on Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy's emotional breakdown during rallies, allegedly due to the shenanigans of the Congress within his coalition, Hariprasad said, "He is saying all this because BJP is not allowing him to function."
Talking about the development work in the IT hub, Hariprasad said, "I am totally against privatisation. The future of Karnataka is in the public sector. It is the public sector which has created the entire infrastructure that has created this city, not Mr Modi. It is the Janta parivaar and Congress which have contributed to one of the world's best cities."
Bangalore South parliamentary constituency, which has been the BJP's bastion for the last 28 years, witnessed a few turns after the demise of former union minister Ananth Kumar last November. Kumar was a six-time Member of Parliament (MP) from Bangalore South and had established a stronghold over his constituency.
Karnataka will vote to elect its members of Parliament during the second and third phases of polling on April 18 and April 23, respectively. The counting of votes will take place on May 23.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)