Narendra Modi in Karnataka: Congress, JD(S) 'secret pact' to Mahadayi dispute, a look at PM's key themes on 3rd day of campaigning

With 12 May inching closer, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched a scathing attack against the Congress government in Karnataka on Saturday, alleging JD(S) and Congress have a "secret pact" and predicting that the Congress will be reduced to a regional party "Punjab, Puducherry. Parivar Congress" in the upcoming Assembly election.

Modi, who addressed four back-to-back rallies at Gadag, Tumakuru, Shivamogga, and Mangaluru, upped the ante against the Siddaramaiah government, alleging it has become a "corruption tank" for the Congress with a pipeline connected to Delhi, "where the money reaches directly".

The prime minister claimed that Congress was desperate to win the 12 May Karnataka Assembly elections, as it was worried about what would happen to its leaders in Delhi if it lost at the hustings. Modi also hit out at the Congress over the Mahadayi river dispute and blamed the party for politicising the water sharing row with neighbouring state Goa.

'Punjab, Puducherry, Parivar Congress'

Escalating his attack on the Congress over "corruption and arrogance", Modi said the party whose flag once fluttered "from Panchayat to Parliament" will become "Punjab, Puducherry, Parivar" Congress after its impending defeat in Karnataka.

 Narendra Modi in Karnataka: Congress, JD(S) secret pact to Mahadayi dispute, a look at PMs key themes on 3rd day of campaigning

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing at an election campaign rally in Mangaluru, Karnataka on Saturday. PTI

"The party whose flag fluttered across the country... from Panchayat to Parliament... which had 400 MPs... its fortresses are falling, one after the other. Without power, it is like a fish without water. Congress's arrogance did it in. Democracy does not brook arrogance," he told a rally in Mangaluru.

"After 15 May (when the poll results will be declared), the Indian National Congress will be reduced to 'PPP Congress' — P for Punjab, P for Puducherry, and P for Parivar (family)," Modi told an election rally in Gadag, where he predicted the state's ruling party would be decimated in the upcoming polls. He also said it was because of Congress's arrogance that the party, which ruled almost the entire country, was losing ground.

Congress, JD(S) have 'secret pact', pretending to 'fight' polls

Addressing an election rally in Tumakuru, Modi alleged that the Congress and JD(S) have entered into a "secret" pact for the Karnataka polls. "If anyone is protecting the Congress, it is the JD(S).... Congress and JD(S) have a secret understanding... an understanding behind the curtains," he said.

"The people of Karnataka have right to know about the alliance between Congress and JD(S) because they pretend to fight in some parts of the state while being together in the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) as evident from the latter's support to the ruling party's corporator (Sampath Raj) in becoming the city mayor last year," asserted Modi at the public rally, organised by the BJP to campaign for its candidates in the northwest district.

The Congress and JD(S) had tied up for the Bengaluru civic body BBMP after the 2017 elections, for the state capital's 198 wards, denying BJP the mayoral post. The JD(S) also supported the Congress candidate Sampath Raj in becoming the city mayor in 2017.

Incidentally, Raj is a Congress contestant in the CV Raman Nagar Assembly segment in the city's southeast suburb against P Ramesh of JD(S) and the two-time legislator S Raghu of BJP.

Modi also alleged that the JD(S) was working towards saving the Congress in the Assembly elections. "The Congress doesn't speak the truth. Its members lie every day and if anyone is trying to save the image of the Congress, it is the JD(S)," he alleged.

'JD(S) will remain number three party'

Reiterating his argument from earlier rallies, Modi told voters that there was no way the JD(S) could defeat the Congress to form a government. "Take a look at all the pre-poll surveys, they show the JD(S) will remain at a third spot in the state."

File image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PTI

File image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PTI

Modi's surprise attack on the JD(S) came four days after he praised its supremo and former prime minister HD Deve Gowda and lashed at Congress president Rahul Gandhi for insulting the latter by terming the JD(S) as the "B team" of the BJP.

He had earlier extolled Gowda, calling the former prime minister "one of the greatest leaders of our country". The prime minister said he respected the JD(S) chief even as his staunch opponent.

"During the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, there was a battle going on between us (the BJP) and the JD(S), and Deve Gowda had announced that if I win and the BJP comes to power he would commit suicide. He is our staunch opposition, yet I have always extended my respect towards him," Modi said.

"If there's a party that is capable of bringing change in the government and to the state of Karnataka and its people, it is the BJP, under the leadership of (its chief ministerial face) BS Yeddyurappa," thundered Modi.

Congress politicising Mahadayi water dispute

Modi blamed the Congress party for politicising the issue of Mahadayi river water sharing with Goa.

"Congress is misleading people in the name of Mahadayi and is only politicising the issue. During a 2007 Goa Assembly poll campaign speech, then-Congress president Sonia Gandhi had assured Goa that Mahadayi river water will not be shared," recalled Modi in Gadag, about 380 kilometres from Bengaluru.

Speaking at Goa's Margao city, Gandhi had in 2007 told people that the Congress was committed to not allow the sharing of Mahadayi water with Karnataka.

The Congress was only showing its "true colours" by politicising the issue ahead of the upcoming 12 May Karnataka Assembly polls, alleged Modi in his 45-minute speech in Hindi, translated into Kannada by BJP's Lok Sabha lawmaker from the state, Pralhad Joshi.

The 77-kilometre-long Mahadayi originates at Bhimgad in the Western Ghats in Belagavi district and flows into Goa and joins the Arabian Sea off the West Coast. Although the river flows 29 kilometres in Karnataka and 52 kilometres in Goa, its catchment area is spread over 2,032 kilometres in Karantaka as against 1,580 kilometres in Goa.

Karnataka has been asking Goa since 2001 to release 7.6 tmcft (thousand million cubic feet) of the river water to meet drinking and irrigation needs of its people in the four drought-prone districts namely — Gadag, Bagalkote, Belagavi, and Dharwad — in the state's northwest region.

Modi, however, did not refer to the Cauvery river water dispute that Karnataka has with its other neighbouring state (Tamil Nadu) even after the Supreme Court on Thursday directed it to release 4 tmcft of water by this month-end.

Congress neglected the poor and farmers

Modi said that the Congress, which ruled the country for decades with "one family" in power, for the most part, neglected the poor and farmers.

"Garibi, garibi, garibi (poverty, poverty, poverty) was their constant refrain. But once the son of a poor mother became the prime minister, they clammed up... now they don't talk about poverty," he said and asked voters to "punish" the Congress for Karnataka's better future.

Alleging that the Congress was doing only "lip-service" to the farmers' issues while indulging in corruption themselves, Modi also said that BJP has taken on a full-fledged battle against corruption. "There is no way this kind of corruption can be tolerated," he reiterated.

Opposing Modi is Congress' sole agenda

In Mangaluru, the prime minister said that opposing him was the Congress's only agenda.

"They even opposed my Clean India campaign. They mock all institutions... the RBI, Indian Army, Parliament.... It is yet to recover from the shock of demonetisation as bundles of ill-gotten currency notes of its leaders were seized... their anger does not go away," he said.

"When the World Bank praises my government, Congress says I bought it off. I am not into buying and selling, I work for the nation. For the Congress, one family is everything. For me, 1.25 crore people of India are my family," he said.

"While 'sabka saath, sabka vikaas' is our mantra, the Congress believes in divide and rule philosophy. It divides people on the grounds of caste. What's more, it even classifies criminals on caste basis," he said.

Noting that spreading lies had become a business for the Congress, Modi also alleged that wherever its leaders go, they spread only lies among people.

With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: May 06, 2018 11:08:03 IST