The BJP today sought to put at rest speculation over whether Narendra Modi will campaign in Karnataka, maintaining that the Gujarat chief minister had made it clear that he will be at their "beck and call" and conduct a whirlwind tour to help BJP retain power.
On persistent speculation on whether Modi would give a pass to the campaigning as the BJP government was dogged by corruption charges and dissidence within the party, president Rajnath Singh, Karnataka Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar and senior leader Ananth Kumar issued a quick rebuttal.
Singh spoke via video conference from the national capital after a private jet carrying him, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley on their way to address a rally here to kick-off party's campaign for May 5 elections, landed under emergency conditions at Delhi airport with the trip being cancelled.
Referring to media reports which suggested that Modi and party stalwart L K Advani might stay away from campaign, he categorically said these were untrue and all the central leaders would travel to Karnataka to address public meetings.
On how many days Modi would spend in Karnataka for campaigning, Ananth Kumar quoted him as saying, "It's not a question of how many days. I will conduct whirlwind tour to bring back BJP to power in Karnataka."
Shettar said when he requested Modi to campaign in the state citing poll challenges, the latter told the Karnataka chief minister, "You fix the time and day. I will be there."
With Singh, Swaraj and Jaitley not able make it to the 'Vijaya Sankalpa Samavesha' as also Advani and Modi, who were anyway not slated to be present here today, the rally appeared to be a low-key affair with much of the sheen missing.
Singh recalled that former Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa was told to resign from the post after a Lokayukta probe indicted him (in connection of illegal mining) as per the party's policy that anybody against whom prima facie corruption charges have been proved should quit.
But, he said, any government should be judged by its performance and listed the achievements of the BJP government.
"Give us clear mandate. We will make Shettar Chief Minister again." His address was telecast on big screen.
BJP leaders who spoke at the rally on the sprawling Palace grounds, including newly appointed state unit president Prahlad Joshi, minister Govind M Karjol, Deputy Chief Minister R Ashoka, sought to mock at the Congress, noting that it has not named the chief ministerial candidate and challenged it to project its "leader".
BJP National Vice-President and former Chief Minister D V Sadananda Gowda sought people's "pardon" for "small scams and confusion" during the 38-month tenure of Yeddyurappa.