Bangalore, Aug 20 (IANS) The ruling Congress in Karnataka was left red-faced after Housing Minister M.H. Ambareesh compared Chief Minister Siddaramaiah to the party's bete noire Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.
The Congress' embarrassment has become all the more acute as Ambareesh, a popular Kannada actor, committed the faux pas Monday, two days ahead of voting in bypolls to two Lok Sabha seats from the state.
Siddarmaiah, who completed 100 days in office Tuesday, sought to downplay Ambareesh's comments by saying he and Modi were poles apart and rejected any comparison with his Gujarat counterpart.
Ambareesh, addressing an election meeting in his home district of Mandya, 80 km from Bangalore, said Siddaramaiah was taking Karnataka on development path and he "is like Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi".
He also predicted that Siddaramaiah would become a national leader.
The bypolls are being held Aug 21 for the Mandya and Bangalore Rural Lok Sabha seats.
Both are considered strongholds of the Janata Dal-Secular and the Congress has campaigned hard to win the seats.
Bangalore Rural constituency has a large number of minority community voters.
Anticipating that Ambareesh's comments could turn into a major controversy for the party ahead of the Aug 21 voting, Siddaramaiah told reporters in Bangalore that the minister made the comments with "good intentions".
"But there cannot be any comparison between me and Modi as we are poles apart in our beliefs," the chief minister said.
However, Ambareesh comments was music to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has made Modi head of the party's campaign committee for the Lok Sabha polls due early next year.
BJP spokesperson S. Prakash told reporters that the BJP "welcomes the comparison. This proves the positive impact Modi has made even on Congress ministers".
Ambareesh has not made further comments on the issue.