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BADAMI: BJP has pitted B Sriramulu against Chief Minister Siddaramaiah in Badami constituency (Bagalkot district) and this has propelled him to the stature of a state leader. Speaking to The New Indian Express, Siramulu said BJP will secure a win against Siddaramaiah. Sriramulu said mining baron G Janardhana Reddy — found guilty in the illegal mining scam — is a powerful BJP leader and will work for the party's victory in the upcoming election.
Now that you have finalised your candidature from two constituencies, what is the main reason behind this dual contest?
I am contesting from Molakalmuru in Chitradurga and Badami in Bagalkot. Since Chief Minister Siddaramaiah — who is considered a Backward Class leader — is contesting from Badami, BJP decided that I was a suitable candidate to fight him. Since the party is confident that I can win from here, they have given me the ticket.
But, BJP generally doesn't offer tickets for one person to contest from two constituencies, especially in Assembly election...
Yes, it does not. However, when Siddaramaiah announced his decision to contest from here, our party wanted the right candidate to represent it in Badami. Since I am recognised as a leader with some power in the party, coming from a backward tribal community, they gave me the opportunity.
Both Bagalkot and Chitradurga districts from where you are contesting are not your home districts. Why did you choose them?
Sriramulu is not restricted to one or two constituencies in the state. I have been recognised as a leader across Karnataka. Irrespective of whether a constituency is a reserved or a general category one, I can win from anywhere. This is due to the relationship I have had with people for the past 30 years. As a result, when such a challenge arose, BJP recognised me as a leader with the required stature to challenge Siddaramaiah. I have that image.
How confident are you about winning in Badami against Siddaramaiah, where Congress is considered to be strong and has won previous assembly polls?
BJP is also very strong in the region and has won here previously. We have won the local body election, Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee polls, and zilla and taluk panchayat polls here. BJP, therefore, has a strong presence in the region and has been consistently winning elections in Badami. Siddaramaiah has failed to fulfil people's expectations. Since he is nervous that people of Chamundeshwari will reject him, he has come here running and will be defeated here too.
'Caste calculation' is one of the factors that helped your candidature. Will it help you in winning the poll?
In Badami, where Backward Classes are in large number, I am confident that the calculation will work. There is a large SCs/STs population too which I think will back me.
How do you plan to campaign in both the constituencies?
Not two, I am campaigning in 80 other constituencies across the state. I am travelling daily to different parts of the state and campaigning for BJP. For instance, in the last two days, I have been campaigning in Davangere, Chamarajanagar and Mysuru. Now I am here. This is how I have been working to ensure my party's success.
Former minister G Janardhana Reddy's name crops up whenever your name is taken due to your association with him. What will his role be in the upcoming polls?
Janardhana Reddy is travelling and campaigning for me in Molakalmuru. He also took part in campaigning in Bengaluru on Tuesday. He has also accompanied several people to file nominations. He is a powerful BJP leader who is making all-out efforts to secure victory for BJP candidates.
Prior to your nomination, it was said that you were convinced to take up the challenge after BJP assured you the CM's berth in the next elections, and DyCM post if the party wins in 2018...
There is no selfish motive behind my candidature here. My only objective is to bring BJP to power in the state ... all such speculations are meaningless. Ours is a single agenda — ensure BJP's victory and make Yeddyurappa the CM. We are working only in that direction.
Has BJP selected you because of the financial strength you enjoy?
No, I don't have anything apart from the fancy clothes I wear. Even the deposit for filing nomination papers was arranged by party supporters.