BENGALURU: Congress leader Siddaramaiah on Tuesday expressed confidence about winning minimum 12 out of 15 assembly seats in Karnataka that will go to the bypolls next month.
The former Chief Minister, who expressed suspicion about "internal understanding" between BJP and JD(S), also made it clear that Congress will not indulge in any practice like 'operation Kamala' (poaching of opposite party MLAs).
"I have said, we will win 12 seats, even if we get all 15 seats it will not be a surprise," Siddaramaiah, also congress legislature party leader, said.
Speaking to reporters at Vijayapura, he said, the Congress state unit will discuss with the high command and decide on the candidates for the remaining 7 seats after the Supreme Court verdict on the disqualified MLAs petition on Wednesday.
He said the party had already declared candidates for 8 seats.
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 top court is scheduled to pronounce on November 13 its verdict on the pleas of 17 disqualified Congress-JD (S) MLAs challenging the orders of the then Assembly Speaker K R Ramesh Kumar to disqualify them, ruling that those disqualified cease to be MLAs with immediate effect till the expiry of the 15th assembly (in 2023).
The BJP will need to win at least six of 15 seats which will go to the bypolls, to remain in power, plans to give tickets to disqualified MLAs, after looking at the court verdict, according to sources.
Responding to a question about the JD(S) "moving close" to BJP, Siddaramaiah expressed suspicion about "internal understanding" between both parties.
"I don't know what internal understanding is happening between them. As you (media) have a suspicion, I too suspect there may be internal understanding," he said.
In what is being perceived as JD(S) softening stand vis-a-vis the BJP, JD(S) patriarch H D Deve Gowda not wanting mid-term polls in the state had recently said he wants the Yediyurappa-led government to complete its term as it would give him time to build his party.
Responding to a question about the Congress looking for disgruntled BJP leaders to join the party, Siddaramaiah said, "Whoever comes to the party accepting its principles and leadership, we will induct them."
"There is no such thing. Mr Yediyurappa started operation kamala in 2008 for the first time to poach Congress MLAs by spending money. Now (during coalition govt) again they have done the same thing on 17 MLAs. We will not do such things," he said.
Reacting to Minister C T Ravi's statement that a few more Congress MLAs have expressed desire to join the BJP, Siddaramaiah said, "let him stop those wanting to quit BJP first, some have decided to quit that party."
"I'm not in touch with anyone. Raju Kage had come and met me. I told him he has to accept Congress principles and asked him to talk to KPCC President," he said in response to a question.
"BJP has money and they can do anything", he said, adding that "they don't know value-based politics. Immoral, backdoor politics to gain power is what they know. They do everything that is undemocratic and unconstitutional for power."
Claiming that he has been denied party ticket for the by-polls, former BJP MLA Raju Kage on Monday had announced his decision to quit the party and join the Congress.
Another BJP leader Ashok Pujari from Gokak is also in talks with Congress, sources claimed.