BJP, Congress commanders clash in battleground Karnataka: Sonia Gandhi, Narendra Modi trade barbs

Vijayapura/Bengaluru: With just two days left before the adrenaline-charged campaign for the Karnataka Assembly elections comes to an end, the BJP and Congress, the two major contenders for power, fielded their top commanders, who attacked each other over corruption and hardline Hindutva.

Leading the charge for the BJP, Prime Minister Narendra Modi claimed people of Karnataka had decided to "uproot" the Congress and "punish" it for its wrongdoings, and that the party was already trying to find excuses like faulty EVMs for its "impending" defeat. Taking on the Siddaramaiah government over alleged corruption at the three rallies he addressed today, Modi said there was not even a single minister who was not facing accusations of financial irregularities.

Campaigning in the Lingayat stronghold of Vijayapura, he alleged the state's ruling Congress was trying to divide the society and spread the "poison of casteism".

File image of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi. PTI

File image of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi. PTI

Congress president Rahul Gandhi attacked the BJP and RSS, likening them to the Islamist organisation Muslim Brotherhood, and saying their agenda was to come topower, and capture institutions.

"The BJP and RSS will repeat one more cycle of getting elected democratically and then discard democracy," he alleged in Bengaluru.

"The RSS over here and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt,Pakistan, Tunisia, Turkey....they are doing the same thing. The RSS and Muslim Brotherhood do not see elections the way we seethem. We win an election and we are okay with losing anelection," he said.

Rahul, who earlier in the day said he was ready to occupy the post of the prime minister if the Congress emerged as the "biggest" party after the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, claimed the saffron outfits were trying to disrupt open-mindedatmosphere, peace and the brotherhood that existed in India.

He said the BJP praised Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and B R Ambekdar upfront but destroyed their legacy.

"Their method is to praise the leader, praise the icon,worship the icon and destroy every single thing he used todo," Rahul said.

After a hiatus of two years, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi addressed an election rally in Vijayapura, hours after Modi's public meeting, and claimed the prime minister was "possessed by the devil" of Congress-mukt Bharat.

His only accomplishment in the last four years was to have undone the good work of the previous Congress governments, she said.

"Modi ji is proud that he can make speeches well. I agree he is a good orator. He speaks like an actor. If speeches could fill the country's stomach, I wish he gave more speeches," she said, taking a swipe at the prime minister.

Sonia Gandhi's rally in Vijayapura in north Karnataka, where Lingayats wield considerable electoral influence, was seen as an attempt to reach out to the community, which has traditionally backed the BJP.

"Modi ji has junoon (passion) of Congress mukt bharat. He is possessed by the devil of Congress mukt bharat (Congress mukht bharat ka bhoot laga hai), Sonia told the audience, as she attacked the prime minister for doing nothing for the middle class, women, girls, dalits and backward classes.

Taking on the prime minister over steps to tackle corruption, she wanted to know why the Lokpal, the proposed anti-graft ombudsman, had not been constituted.

Sonia claimed Congress-ruled Karnataka was discriminated against as it got "too little" by way of central assistance for drought relief. "Modi ji, is this your sab ka saath, sab ka vikas? (together will all, development of all)," she asked.

File image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Karnataka. Twitter @BJP4India

File image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Karnataka. Twitter @BJP4India

Modi, who addressed rallies at Vijayapura, Koppal and Bengaluru, accused the Congress of pursuing the policy of "divide and rule".

"Congress believes in the policy of divide and rule... divide on the basis of caste and religion....make brother fight brother. But people of this land of Basaveshwara will not allow it to happen," he told the rally at Vijayapura.

The state's ruling Congress has recommended religious minority status for the Lingayats, a traditional vote base of the BJP, a move many feel was aimed at splitting their votes. BJP's chief ministerial candidate Yeddyurappa belongs to the the Lingayat community.

Modi said with defeat staring the Congress in the face, it was busy trying to find excuses like blaming the EVMs for the loss. He also said attempts were being made to confuse the voters with the claim that the elections will throw up a hung Assembly.

"Can you tell me the name of a single minister who is not facing allegations of corruption," he said targeting the Congress government, a day after Siddaramaiah sent legal notices to Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah, threatening to file civil and criminal defamation suit against them for making unsubstantiated allegations.

BJP president Amit Shah, who held a road show in Mangaluru and also addressed a rally, said the Congress government led by Siddaramaiah would be "sent home" on 15 May, the day the results would be declared.

Shah claimed many Hindus were "murdered" in Dakshina Kannada district but nobody was even arrested.


Updated Date: May 08, 2018 22:10 PM

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