For the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party in Karnataka, the forthcoming assembly elections are nothing short of a litmus test.
The party, which had stormed to power last time riding on the slogan, 'Give us a chance', is seeking votes now with the appeal, 'Give us one more chance.'
The BJP’s Karnataka unit chief Prahlad Joshi has a Herculean task on his hand.
In an interview with rediff.com’s Vicky Nanjappa, Joshi claimed that the chances of his party coming back to power were quite high.
All poll pundits predict a poor showing for the BJP. Do you agree with them?
No, I do not. The BJP has done a lot of good work during its five-year term. There have been problems but the people remember us for our work and this will translate into votes. We will get another chance.
Mangalore was considered a strong bastion for the BJP, but the party lost seats in the urban body elections. What are your thoughts about that?
There was a setback. I do not disagree with that. But the assembly election is different. We will retain our position not only in Mangalore but in coastal Karnataka as wll.
The party has projected Jagadish Shettar as the chief ministerial candidate. How effective will this strategy be, considering he is well known only in north Karnataka?
That is not correct. He is not restricted to north Karnataka alone. He has been a loyal worker of the party since a very long time and he is the most experienced leader in the party today.
It was only natural to project him as the CM candidate. He has vast experience in politics. He has also been a leader of the opposition.
He has a clean reputation. There could not have been anyone better than him for the post.
Were the above mentioned factors taken into consideration or was the fact that he belongs to the Lingayat community the deciding factor?
It is one of the factors but definitely not the main one.
Former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa was the mascot of the Lingayats. Will his absence hurt this vote bank?
I agree that as long as he was with the BJP, Yeddyurappa was considered to be a leader of the Lingayats. He thought that his popularity among the Lingayats would help his party (Karnataka Janata Party).
However, what Yeddyurappa has realised is that the BJP was very important to his image. Without the party, he has no identity. Many thought he would take away all the Lingayat leaders from the BJP. This has not been the case.
He has managed to ensure the defection of just five per cent of the leaders from the BJP. Initially, many felt that he will retain his popularity, but it has taken a beating. His agenda was only against the BJP and that will not work out with the voters.
Is the BJP a united house today?
There is no doubt about it. After Yeddyurappa quit, there is a lot of unity.
How stiff is the competition from the Congress?
There is competition, but we are confident of winning. The people will give us another chance.