Sonia Gandhi addresses election rally after 2 years, tells Narendra Modi oratory cannot fill stomach of poor

The heat of electioneering in Karnataka soared higher with some of the tallest national leaders campaigning in the state. But the news point of the day was Congress leader and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi's rally, who addressed an election campaign after a gap of two years.

Sonia, who has handed over the reins of the party to her son Rahul, made a strong attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday, accusing him of being intolerant and spreading lies about India's history.

"Modiji is besotted with Congress-free India. Leave Congress-free India, he cannot even tolerate anyone in front of him," Sonia said in her first rally in about two years.

Addressing a rally in Vijayapura, hours after Modi spoke, she lashed out at his government, saying it had discriminated against Karnataka.

File image of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi. PTI

File image of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi. PTI

"You must know that the central government is working in a biased manner when it comes to Karnataka. Farmers of Karnataka have been suffering due to drought, your Chief Minister Siddaramaiah wanted to meet PM over this issues but he refused. By doing this he has insulted not only the farmers but also the state of Karnataka. I want to ask him, is this his 'sabka sath sabka vikas'," Sonia said.

She also asked why was it that the Centre gave the least amount of money to Karnataka, whereas the other BJP-ruled states were helped out with farm loan waivers.

"All states that suffered drought were given compensation (by Centre), Karnataka was provided with the least, this was like rubbing salting into the wounds of farmers," she said.

She said Modi may be a good speaker but speeches alone cannot solve problems of the people.

"He (Modi) is proud of his oratory skills. If his oratory can fill hungry stomachs, he must speak more often. Speeches cannot fill the stomach of the hungry. Speeches cannot empower women, cure those suffering from diseases, it cannot create employment. For all this you need strong commitment, determination and good intention," she said.

Lauding the Siddaramaiah government for its initiatives concerning the poor and the farmers, she urged people to defeat the BJP over its "jumlas".

"BJP people come, make false promises, create hatred and return. I know that you will unmask each of their jumlas and form a Congress government with clear majority," Sonia said in her brief speech.

She said that ending corruption was among tall promises of Modi but he had failed to appoint a Lokpal.

Sonia also targeted Modi over allegations concerning Reddy brothers and about spurt in turnover of a company linked to BJP chief Amit Shah's son Jay Shah.

"What is his model of ending corruption. Wherever he addresses rallies in Karnataka, there are people around him. Will you adopt their model or you will adopt model of your closest associate," she said.

She said Siddaramaiah had sought time to meet Modi but an appointment was not given.

"He (Modi) has insulted the people of Karnataka. It is surprising that states which faced drought were given crores of rupees but Karnataka was given the least. This was like adding salt to the injury of farmers of Karnataka. Is this your 'Sabka saath, sabka vikas'?" she asked.

Claiming that the Modi government over the past four years had carried out only one task — of ending the good works of the UPA government, she accused him of speaking lies and distorting historical facts.

"The country is shocked at Modi's wrongful statements and at his attempts at using the legacy of our freedom fighters for political gains," she said.

Meanwhile, the BJP raked up her foreign origin to attacked the Congress leader ahead of her rally by referring to her maiden name Antonio Maino.

"Today, Ms Antonio Maino is here in Karnataka to save her last citadel from falling! Madam Maino, K'taka needs no lessons from the person who was solely responsible for wastingIndia's 10 precious years. "And to Congress, need to remind you of your 'import' jibe?" Karnataka BJP said in a tweet. The BJP was responding to Siddaramaiah's recent remarks calling Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his own Uttar Pradesh counterpart Yogi Adityanath "North Indian imports".

Modi too, in his speech, hit out at Sonia saying that the Congress leaders are hopeful that with her canvassing in the state, at least the deposits of Congress candidates will be safe.

Modi said he had on Monday watched an interview of a Congress leader who said that the son (Congress President Rahul Gandhi) "will not be able to do anything".

"If you bring the mother (Sonia) to Karnataka and she does something, then maybe the deposits can be saved. This is what Congress leaders have started speaking," Modi said at a rally.

With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: May 08, 2018 20:01:13 IST

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