Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi led the political battle in Karnataka on Thursday ahead of the Assembly elections in the state, which are scheduled to be held on 12 May. Modi and Rahul traded allegations on several issues, ranging from corruption to divisive politics.
Modi termed the Karnataka government a "gold medalist" in corruption. On the other hand, Rahul said the Congress would defeat the 'hate-mongering' BJP with love. Uttar Pradesh chief minister also campaigned for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the state and accused the Congress of supporting 'jihadis'.
Karnataka election is battle of two ideologies: Gandhi
The Congress president launched the eighth phase of his campaign in Karnataka on Thursday. Resuming his "Jana Aashirwada Yatre", Rahul took part in four corner meetings starting from Aurad. Addressing the gathering in Aurad, the Congress president described the election in Karnataka as a "battle of two ideologies".
"On one side there is Congress which believes in empowerment, while on the other side are RSS-BJP, and Narendra Modi and BS Yeddyurappa who want to spread RSS' ideology across India. They only want that the ideology from RSS' Nagpur office should prevail in India," he said.
Rahul attacked Modi on the issue of farm loan waiver and drew a contrast between the prime minister and Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah's approach to the issue. "We gave you a manifesto five years ago. We fulfilled 90 percent of those promises in the manifesto. Modi has waived Rs 2.5 lakh crore of 15 of the richest people in India. I approached Modi in his office and appealed to waive farmers' loans. He just stared at me and said nothing. I raised the same issue with Siddaramaiah, and he waived farmer loans in the next ten days," he said.
The Congress chief also took a dig at Modi for supporting BJP chief ministerial face BS Yeddyurappa. "Modi ironically speaks of anti-corruption from a stage he shares with Yeddyurappa," he said.
He said that the Congress followed Basavanna principle of "walk the talk". "All promises made to you from this stage will be fulfilled," he said.
Addressing a gathering in Bhalki, Rahul further sharpened his attack on Modi over the issue of corruption by claiming that the prime minister had "fielded the entire gang of Gabbar Singh", hinting at the BJP's association with the Reddy brothers. "You brought Gabbar Singh Tax but this time you have gone even further. You have fielded the entire gang of Gabbar Singh. There is Gabbar, Sambha, Kalia, and all of them.... Reddy brothers gang, which was in jail.... You are trying to get them inducted into the Assembly, and you tell the country that you are fighting against corruption," he said.
Rahul also attacked the prime minister on the issue of absconding businessman Nirav Modi and the Rafale deal. "In Rafale (deal), you snatched contract from (public sector) HAL. The Aircraft which was to cost Rs 700 crore, you bought for Rs 1,500 crore," he alleged.
The Congress president also sought to highlight the Karnataka government's contribution towards education for the girl child and alleged that Modi will turn Karnataka into Gujarat. "While Karnataka worked to offer free education to the girl child, in Narendra Modi's Gujarat, people have to struggle to afford education for their children because of blatant privatisation (of schools). Here you can do it for free. That's the difference between his governance and ours," Rahul said.
"Modiji had said, 'Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao'; but now the whole country has come up with a new slogan 'Beti Bachao from BJP's MLAs'," Rahul added. He also targeted Modi over his 'failure' to provide 2 crore jobs to the youth and asked him to "practice what you preach".
The Congress chief said that his party would defeat the "hate-mongering BJP" with "love". "The battle is between two ideologies. The hate-mongering BJP has launched a systematic attack upon Karnataka's people, its history, language and Basavanna's ideology. But it won't win. We will defeat them but with love. Because that is our culture," Rahul said.
Modi is lying to my people: Mallikarjun Kharge
Senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge also attacked Modi. Speaking at a gathering in Bhalki, he said that the prime minister was lying for votes. "I will call Narendra Modi 'Jhut Ka Sartaaj'," he said. "He said that I have a lot of property and money. Had he opened his mouth in the Lok Sabha, I would have given a reply, then and there. Now he is lying in my village to my people," Kharge added.
The honesty of Ballari is being insulted: Narendra Modi
The Karnataka government is a "gold medalist" in corruption and Congress leaders are "drunk on power", Modi said on Thursday, as he gave an adrenaline boost to the BJP's election campaign in the state days before it goes to poll.
Flagging nationalism, Modi slammed the Congress for "insulting" national heroes and the army.
He rubbished pollsters' prediction about a hung Assembly and asserted that the BJP would form a government on its own as people have made up their mind to "demolish the Congress' last fortress".
Days after castigating Rahul for "insulting" former prime minister HD Deve Gowda for calling his JD(S) the "B team" of the BJP, Modi asked people not to "waste" their votes by backing Gowda's party as it was going to finish "a poor, distant third" in the elections.
Under attack over the BJP giving tickets to the controversial Reddy brothers, allegedly involved in a mammoth mining scam, Modi launched a counter-offensive against the Karnataka government, accusing it of thwarting the Centre's attempts to check illegal mining by not formulating a mining policy.
Dubbing the Siddaramaiah government as "seedha rupaiah government" (corrupt), a punning allusion to the chief minister's name, Modi said an ordinary man cannot get any work done without bribing officials. "Because of this seedha rupaiah government, Karnataka is immersed in debt," he said at an election rally in Ballari.
Modi, who also addressed a rally in Bengaluru, called the Siddaramaiah government a "gold medalist in corruption where there is competition between departments and ministers over who is more corrupt."
"There is lawlessness in the city not because of nothing. A Congress MLA's son beats up innocent people and the government protects him... their leaders are drunk on power," he said, referring to lawmaker NA Haris' son Mohammad Nalapad, who beat up a man at a cafe in Bengaluru some time ago. Haris is Congress' candidate from Shanti Nagar in the upcoming election.
Modi alleged that crime against women in Karnataka increased under the Congress government. "Women safety is one of the biggest concerns in Karnataka. Crimes against women are on the rise under the Congress government," he said. "Why is the Congress government not sensitive towards women's issues? Why are they not even spending funds for construction of toilets?" he added.
Claiming that the people of Karnataka were "seething with anger" because of the Congress's misdeeds, he said within five years it turned Bengaluru, which was known as the country's 'Silicon Valley', into "a valley of sin", and the "garden city" to "garbage city".
"From computer capital, it has become crime capital, its cosmopolitan culture has turned into cultural chaos, and from being a start-up hub, it has been converted into pothole hub," he said.
Targeting Congress at his first rally of the day in Kalaburagi, Modi said, "Forgetting the national heroes, patriots, and history, is the nature of a family in the Congress. (Jawaharlal) Nehru and V K Krishna Menon insulted General (KS) Thimayya, who had to resign."
"The army won the battle against Pakistan in 1948 under the leadership of General Thimayya, but the man who saved Kashmir had to resign because of insult and to protect his self-respect. They (Congress governments) neglected and insulted Field Marshal (KM) Cariappa," Modi said.
The young generation of Kannadigas need to know how the "sons of Karnataka" were treated by the Congress, he said, apparently seeking to awaken the 'Kannada pride' among the electorate.
Seeking to appeal to the patriotic sentiments of voters, the prime minister raked up the issue of cross-LoC surgical strikes, claiming the Congress questioned the genuineness of the assault by the Indian Army.
"But, a shameless Congress sought proof about the genuineness of the surgical strike. Bodies of Pakistani soldiers were carried on trucks, a famous newspaper said that...and they need proof. Should our valiant soldiers go on such operations with a camera or a gun?" he said.
In the line of Congress fire over the BJP granting party tickets to Reddy brothers, accused of involvement in a humongous illegal iron ore mining scam, the prime minister hit back.
"This Karnataka government frustrated all attempts by the Centre to stop illegal mining in Ballari ... to allow the auction of mining blocks. But, the Siddaramaiah government failed to formulate a mining policy in five years," he told an election rally in Ballari.
Seeking to turn the tables on the Congress for its criticism of the BJP over Reddy brothers, Modi said,"The honesty of Ballari is being insulted...as if only thieves and looters live in Ballari."
The prime minister said it was the nature of the Congress to play vote bank politics.
"It is an anti-Dalit, anti-Adivasi, anti-OBC party. When we wanted to accord constitutional status to the OBC commission, it blocked our move," he said.
The prime minister said that the BJP's rivals once called it a "Brahmin-Bania" party, but it made a Dalit the president, and a backward 'chaiwalla' the prime minister.
"The people of Karnataka have made up their mind to demolish the last fortress of the Congress on 15 May (the day election results will be announced)," Modi said.
He also questioned the Congress government over why the funds which the Centre allocated to Karnataka for developing smart cities "remained unutilised".
Referring to poll predictions, Modi said the JD(S) was going to finish a "poor, distant third". "Will any intelligent person waste his vote on a party that cannot win the election, cannot dislodge the Congress from power?" he asked.
"The only service it has done to the state is to join hands with extremist, communal elements, risking the future of Karnataka," he said in an apparent reference to Asaduddin Owaisi's AIMIM extending support to the JD(S).
Congress has turned Karnataka into killing fields of Hindu activists: Yogi Adityanath
Adityanath, who is among the BJP's star campaigners in the upcoming Assembly elections in Karnataka, said the Congress is used to supporting 'jihadis'.
According to The Times of India, the Uttar Pradesh chief minister accused the Congress of turning the once role-model state for the nation into 'killing fields of Hindu activists'.
Addressing a BJP rally in Sirsa, Adityanath also accused the Karnataka government of looting the state. Seeking to highlight the achievements of his government, the Uttar Pradesh chief minister said that Uttar Pradesh was facing a similar law and order situation before his government assumed power, but now the anti-social elements have fled the state. Adityanath also noted that Uttar Pradesh has a population of 23 crore, which is three times that of Karnataka, but the state had not witnessed cases of farmer suicides.
He further accused the Congress government of dividing Karnataka along caste lines and alleged that the law and order in the state was on the decline and people like Yasin Bhatkal had taken over.
Adityanath also attacked the Karnataka government on the issue of farm loan waiver, and said that while the Siddaramaiah-led government had waived the loans of farmers in co-operative societies, his government in Uttar Pradesh had waived the loans of all farmers, including those availed from nationalised banks.
He also sought to draw a connection between Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka by recalling the relationship between Gorakhnath Mutt in Uttar Pradesh, which he represents, and the Kadri Mutt in Mangaluru, Manjunatheshwara temple in Dharmasthala and Adichunchanagiri Mutt in Sringeri.
Meanwhile, former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah slammed Adityanath on Twitter, for giving campaigning in Karnataka a priority over visiting the families who lost their loved ones in the dust storm that started on Wednesday. He tweeted:
If you do an interview with the CM of UP & don’t ask him why campaigning in Karnataka is a bigger priority than visiting some of the families who lost loved ones in the dust storms then it’s a puff piece, not an interview.
— Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) May 4, 2018
Congress won't even bag 60 seats: BS Yeddyurappa
The BJP's chief ministerial candidate assured farmers that the BJP would waive off farm loans if his party was voted to power in Karnataka. He also claimed that Siddaramaiah would lose from the Chamundeshwari and Badami Assembly constituencies.
"The BJP will release its poll manifesto on Friday and we will assure farmers of waiving off farm loans," he was quoted as saying by the Deccan Chronicle.
"The Congress party won't even bag 60 seats despite collective campaigning by Siddaramaiah, KPCC president G Parameshwara and senior Congress Mallikarjun Kharge," he further added, according to the report.
With inputs from PTI
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Updated Date: May 04, 2018 12:08:29 IST