‘Who’ll be CM unimportant, it’s an ideological battle for Cong’

Bengaluru Governance Interview Karnataka politics

People in BJP unhappy due to corruption: Saleem Ahmed

The Congress and JD(S) have begun releasing their lists of candidates for the May 10 elections to the legislative assembly. Amidst defections, corruption charges and the politics of freebies, Saleem Ahmed, KPCC working president and MLC, spoke with The Observer.

Excerpts from an interview:

Q:There are multiple Congress aspirants for seats due to defections from other parties. How is the party handling the competition?

A:There are three to six people per seat. But we take decisions about a candidate in consultation with MLAs. We shortlist candidates, send the list to the screening committee. Then party leaders like Mohan Prakash and Randeep Surjewala will scrutinize the list. We understand that those who are not shortlisted will be unhappy for some time. We check track records to find the best candidates that fit the party’s interests.

Q:The BJP, which has not announced any list of candidates, has said some seats in their list of candidates will give a “surprise result”.How do you see this?

A:There’s no demand for the BJP; many want to join the Congress. They don’t have enough candidates as all are coming to the Congress. People inside the BJP are unhappy because of too much corruption. Recently, Virupaksha (a BJP MLA) was arrested. They just keep quiet. We can see a wave of Democrats in Karnataka. This time, for sure, the Congress will win. What is their (the BJP’s) achievement? No houses, no employment, and too much inflation.

Q. The Congress coined the “40 per cent commission” slogan against the BJP.How will it eliminate corruption?

A:When we were in power, we had no corruption charges. In the BJP’s time, contractors protested against them. They have made Karnataka a corruption capital. We will change Karnataka’s image. Many contractors, like Santosh Patil, committed suicide. Contractors wrote to the President saying they could not pay commissions to ministers like Eshwarappa. Our party will work for development.We’ll announce 200 units of free electricity and start an inquiry into corruption after the first cabinet (meeting).

Q: Besides JD(S) and BJP, AAP is also in the fray. How do you see it?

A:This is a fight between the Congress and the BJP. We don’t see AAP as a contender. In Delhi, there was only one opposition to AAP whichis why they won. But in Karnataka, there are multiple parties and they can’t win.

Q: Who will be the candidate to be chief minister: D.K. Shivakumar or


A: We are fighting an ideological battle. Our aim is to remove this corrupt

government. The CM face is not our concern. It will be decided by the high command in consultation with all the MLAs.

Q: Do you think the Surat case against Rahul Gandhi can affect the Congress’ prospects?

A:The Congress is not afraid of anything. We unite people, but the BJP creates a divide. They are afraid of the truth being spoken as the truth. Also, the court is in Gujarat. They are afraid after Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra, as it developed his leadership.

Q: When will the Congress release its third list of candidates?

A. We will announce the third list after Mr Rahul Gandhi’s visit on April 10 to Kolar, where he will address a Satyamev Jayate rally.


Yukta Mudgal
Trainee Journalist at IIJNM.

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