Bengaluru: As he accompanied Congress president Rahul Gandhi for the valedictory function of the Jana Aashirvaada Yatra at Palace Grounds, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah sat down for a chit-chat with reporters. Here are excerpts.
Why are you risking a poll battle in Chamundeshwari?
What you thought was wrong. Compared to the 2006 polls, I am comfortable now. At that time, the JD (S) and BJP were united and H.D. Kumaraswamy was the chief minister. Janata Dal(S) supremo H.D. Deve Gowda used to visit the constituency and cry. I faced so much difficulty then. Now, I am pretty comfortable. Unlike your observation, people are still innocent there. The only change is: Then, I used to hold meetings of elders and ask for votes. Now I have to ask the father, son and daughter too.
Are all of your sitting MLAs going to get tickets?
I think 10-15 may lose tickets because of strong anti-incumbency against them.
How confident are you about a Congress victory?
I had commissioned three rounds of surveys across the state. From the first to the third round, we got more seats. I am confident of our victory. There is no doubt about it.
Isn’t the induction of people like Ashok Kheny (of NICE) and Anand Singh (mining baron) going to cost you dear?
No. (pauses…) See sometimes, people think differently. You saw what happened to Yeddyurappa after he came out of jail. He contested the assembly elections and won his seat with the highest margin in the state. We do not know how people think. They might use a different yardstick to assess a leader.
Haven’t you divided the Veerashaiva Lingayats with your recommendation for religion tag for Lingayats?
No. That religion has existed for a very long time. We have only recommended a formal minority religion tag. We are not making it an issue, nor do we intend to derive benefits from that decision.
How do you see the Income Tax department’s letter to the chief secretary asking for details of contractors?
(pauses) That officer is becoming over smart..