Rahul to campaign in Karnataka, CM confident of victory

New Delhi, Jan 13 (IANS) Rahul Gandhi will launch the first leg of his election campaign in Karnataka from February 10-12, with Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Saturday claiming that there was no anti-incumbency feeling against his government and the Congress will win a comfortable majority in the assembly polls due in a few months.

“He (Gandhi) will be addressing meetings and interacting with various groups of intellectuals, farmers, women and students during his visit to Karnataka,” state Congress chief G. Parameshwara said.

Gandhi decided on the campaign after meeting with party leaders from his state, including Siddaramaiah, state party unit president G. Parameshwara, working president Dinesh Gundu Rao, Leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, senior leaders Veerappa Moily, K.H. Muniappa, Oscar Fernandes and party in charge of Karnataka K.C. Venugopal.

“We, senior leaders including the KPCC President and General Secretary in charge and secretaries, are confident that the Congress party will come back to power on its own with a comfortable majority,” Siddaramaiah told reporters after the meeting here.

“Rahul Gandhi is very happy with the functioning of the government. He is very happy that our our government has no anti-incumbency. He is very happy to know that all promises made to the people in the (last election) manifesto have been fulfilled,” Siddaramaiah told reporters here.

The Chief Minister refused to apologize for his alleged attack on the BJP calling them terrorists. He also trashed the BJP campaign and its President Amit Shah’s description of his government as anti-Hindu, saying they had nothing to talk about “and are raising irrelevant issues”.

Asked about the BJP’s attack on him on Hindutva issues, Siddaramaiah said: “The BJP has no issues. They are raising irrelevant issues. (Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister) Yogi Adityanath is also raising the same issue. Amit Shah is also raising the same issue. (Prime Minister) Narendra Modi may also raise the same issue because they have no issues there.”

To a question about his alleged attack on the BJP and its leaders as terrorists, he said: “I did not say terrorists. I have only said they spread hatred in the name of Hindutva. I said I am also a Hindu but a humane Hindu. Hindu dharma means humane Hindu and not hatred. That is Hindutva.”

Asked if he would apologise for his remarks as demanded by the BJP, he asked “why”.

Venugopal said the leaders gave an assurance that they would all work united for the success of the party in the Assembly elections.

The meeting came in the wake of a verbal duel between Siddaramaiah and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President Amit Shah. Karnataka is likely to witness election in April-May.

Siddaramaiah had called the BJP and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) “Hindutva extremists”, while Shah had termed his government in Karnataka “anti-Hindu”.

Gandhi had earlier warned his party leaders from making remarks which are unwarranted and personal.

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