Winning is important for us, B S Yeddyurappa, the BJP's chief ministerial candidate said while defending the BJP leadership's decision of giving tickets to mining barons, the Reddy brothers of Ballari and their associates.
Yeddyurappa said he was aware of his past experiences with the Reddy brothers and would cautiously move ahead.
"All the former and present MLAs of Ballari, including Sriramulu, are with us. While two of them left us, we gave tickets to the rest of them. They will surely win. Victory is equally important," he said.
BJP has fielded G Somashekhara Reddy in Ballari city and his elder brother and former Ballari Lok Sabha member G Karunakara Reddy in Harappanahalli in Davanagere district.
Another brother, Janardhana Reddy, has been barred from entering Ballari, in accordance with his bail conditions in the illegal mining case and is camping near Molakalmuru in Chitradurga district overseeing the campaign of his siblings as also the BJP.
Yeddyurappa said Janardhana Reddy had not expected a ticket to contest the polls and added that if he felt he should help, he was free to do so independently.
"I admit I should move cautiously," he told a meet-the-press programme organised by the Press Club of Bangalore and Bangalore Reporters Guild.
Yeddyurappa said he has not forgotten the past.
"I am not forgetting (the past incidents of) Reddy brothers. I have told you we will be very careful in future. I know what had happened when I was the chief minister. I will be careful," said the former chief minister.
Asked about chief minister Siddaramaiah's accusation that Somashekhara Reddy had been accused of bribing a judge in the cash for bail case, he said the charge was not true and had lost its meaning as the Reddy brothers had been absolved.
Somasekhara Reddy has been accused of bribing a judge in the cash-for-bail case that involved Janardhana Reddy. He is currently out on bail.
Yeddyurappa counter-questioned the chief minister, asking him to explain about the cases against their candidate Anand Singh, to whom they had given a ticket and who too had been to jail.
To a question on reported differences of opinion between him and party president Amit Shah regarding Janardhana Reddy, Yeddyurappa said the latter was not in the BJP.
BJP has publicly distanced itself from Janaradhana Reddy, with party chief Amit Shah recently saying it has nothing to do with him.
Yeddyurappa, however, admitted he had met Reddy before Shah had publicly disowned him.
"Since the court has denied him (Reddy) permission to canvass in the election (at Ballari), he cannot canvass for us. For me winning each and every constituency is important."
To a query that Reddy brothers had abused him in public, Yeddyurappa said, "You forget....What about people's opinion? How can they win there then?"
Asked how he would face the electorate when he had been to jail on corruption charges, the BJP leader said he has been absolved of all charges by the courts.
Yeddyurappa demanded that the chief minister, who has been taunting him, saying he was once a prisoner, explain who gifted him the Rs 70 lakh watch and the reason for it.
"Siddaramaiah who looted and did corruption talks of Yeddyurappa going to jail. Why are then people giving me 150 seats?"
The BJP leader ruled out any possible tie-up with Janata Dal (Secular), headed by former prime minister HD Deve Gowda, saying that such a question does not arise because his party would get an absolute majority.
"Even in Badami, defeat is staring at him. Congress is a divided house with three doors, where there are differences of opinion between Siddaramaiah, Mallikarjun Kharge and G Parameshwara," said Yeddyurappa.
|Karnataka Assembly Election dates|
|Date of notification||April 17|
|Last date to file nominations||April 24|
|Last date to withdraw nominations||April 27|
|Date of polling||May 12|
|Date of counting||May 15|