Bharatiya Janata Party President Amit Shah, who arrived here on Saturday on a three-day visit to Karnataka, claimed that the BJP would return to power in the assembly elections in early 2018.Addressing about 500 party cadres and its state unit leaders outside the airport on arrival from New Delhi, Shah said: "I have come here with a firm will to bring the BJP back to power in the state. I can sense the mood of the people to give our party an opportunity again to serve them."Wearing the popular 'Mysore Peta' (headgear) and sporting a saffron shawl, Shah said the party would strive to win about 150 seats in the 225-member assembly to form the next government."It will be a BJP government this time to free the people from the corrupt and incompetent Congress government in the state. We will make Karnataka also a Congress-free state, as we did in other states," he said.The BJP formed its first government in the southern state after winning a simple majority in the 2008 assembly election and was in power for five years with three Chief Ministers, but lost to the ruling Congress in the 2013 poll.Union Ministers D.V. Sadanada Gowda and Ananth Kumar, party's state unit president B.S. Yeddyurappa, former Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar and other leaders received Shah and accompanied him to the party's office in the city.
"Though Shah is visiting Karnataka as part of his 110-day nationwide tour to strengthen the party's presence, he will have a firsthand account of the political situation in the state and draw plans for the upcoming assembly poll," a party official told IANS."Shah is holding a day-long meeting with the party's core group to draw the poll strategy for the assembly election, due in April-May 2018. He will also interact with our state unit leaders, lawmakers and the party's office-bearers," said the official.Besides Yeddyurappa and Shettar, Gowda was the state's Chief Minister for a year from August 2011 to September 2012 after the former resigned following his indictment in the multi-crore mining scam in the state by the anti-graft body Lokayukta (Ombudsman).The party has invited about 600 achievers from different fields, and celebrities for an interaction with Shah at a star hotel in the city on Saturday night and for their feedback on the BJP-led NDA government in the Centre.The party's chief will call on hill town Adichunchanagiri Mutt seer Nirmalananda Swamiji in the city on Sunday and visit the ashram of Art of Living founder Ravi Shankar on the city's southern outskirts."Shah will address the party's elected representatives, cadres and supporters on Monday before leaving for New Delhi. He will share with them the poll strategy to win absolute majority in the ensuing assembly election with its 'Mission 150' target," added the official.