Asserting that he would complete his full term,Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa on Saturday said he will work to strengthen BJP “till his last breath” and that bringing it to power once again was his responsibility.
Conceding that is current stint was more “challenging”,he also trained his guns on leader of the opposition Siddaramaiah for calling him a “weak Chief Minister” and giving the government a score of 'zero' for its performance so far.
“Till my last breath I will work to build this party. I don't want any positions. People know who I am,” he said.
In an interview to PTI, the Chief Minister said, “I will work to further build the party and bringing it to power once again is my responsibility.”
The 76 year-old Lingayat strongman was responding to a query about his political retirement, amid speculations about him not completing his full term in office citing his age and also the BJP central leadership allegedly not being keen on continuing with him in the top post for long. As the BJP government led by him completed its 100th day in office on Saturday, Yediyurappa expressed confidence about completing his full term and asserted that he enjoys the full confidence of the high command, its leaders, MLAs and workers.
“...there is more love and affection towards me, or else why would I have been made Chief Minister? There is some wrong perception in the minds of some people, which is not right. Whether it is Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) or Home Minister (Amit Shah, also BJP President)- have good faith in me, there is expectation for good administration,” he said.
On his first 100 days in office, he said there were “pluses and minuses” as rains had filled water bodies in the state that was reeling under drought, but also caused large scale flooding in several areas,destroying lives and property.
Noting that the challenge was to provide relief and rehabilitation to the flood affected,he pointed out that crops in seven lakh hectares and lakhs of houses had been damaged.
“For the first time in the history of the country we are giving Rs 5 lakh instead of Rs 98,000 as per norms for damaged houses, out of which Rs 1 lakh has already been given for laying foundation stones of houses. An amount of Rs 10,000 has been given as immediate relief to the affected and Rs 5,000 as rent to those displaced.No one has done this,” he said, adding that crop damage compensation has also been enhanced.
Yediyurappa said this was '101 per cent more challenging' than the last term, but he was confident of facing it.
Rubbishing reports about lack of support from the central government for flood relief, the Chief Minister said, “I'm hundred per cent getting cooperation from the centre.” Citing Amit Shah's aerial survey and Finance Minister Nirmala Sitaraman's visit to the affected areas,Yediyurppa said a study team which was sent had submitted its report, after which Rs 1,200 crore was released as interim relief “We are expecting Rs 2,000 crore more, we will wait”.
Hitting out at Siddaramaiah, he said the former Chief Minister's conduct and the way he was 'crossing his limits' and manner of speaking smacked of 'complete arrogance'.
“He (Siddaramaiah) is saying he will give a score of zero to my government. Who is he to score? People have to give me marks...he is trying to create confusion among people for political reasons, as the LoP,” he said.
“Siddaramaiah was Chief Minister and now the LoP. Under his leadership, how many seats did Congress win in Lok Sabha election? Just one.
People have already scored you (Siddaramaiah),” Yediyurappa said and flayed Congress' proposed padyatra (march) in flood affected areas as a “political circus”.
Siddaramaiah on Friday had given a score of “zero” for the Yediyurappa-led ministry and had called him a “weak” CM.
Stating that the December 5 bypolls for 15 assembly constituencies would be fought on the development agenda, Yediyurappa conceded that there was opposition within BJP for giving tickets to disqualified MLAs and said “we will decide on candidates after the Supreme Court verdict.” Bypolls to 15 of 17 seats represented by disqualified MLAs, whose resignation and absence from the trust vote led to the fall of the Congress-JD(S) coalition government, and made way for the BJP to come to power, will be held on December 5.
The then Speaker K R Ramesh Kumar had disqualified them as MLAs, ruling that those disqualified, cease to be MLAs with immediate effect till the expiry of the 15th assembly (in 2023), which they have challenged in the Supreme Court The matter is currently being heard by the top Court On whether BJP would join hands with JD(S) if it failed to win maximum seats in the bypolls, as that party leader H D Kumaraswamy had recently stated he would not destabilize the government, Yediyurappa said “There is no question of joining hands with JD(S). I don't want to answer it. We will complete our remaining 3.5 year term on our strength.” BJP needs to win at least six seats in the bypolls to retain its majority in the 224-member Assembly, which will still have two vacant seats-- Maski and R R Nagar.
“Improving farmers' economy, irrigation, development of Bengaluru, tourism, housing sector and industrial development is my government's focus area,” Yediyurappa said, adding that the state was financially stable.
However, the economic slowdown would have its affect on the state, the Chief Minister, who also holds the Finance portfolio, said in response to a question.
“So far our revenue collection is satisfactory. We are marching ahead. There will be no shortage in tax collection, but there will be some setback in central funds that we get.
How much it is, we have to wait and watch.”