Former Congress president Sonia Gandhi launched a pointed attack directly on Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a major election rally held in poll-bound Karnataka’s Vijayapura (Bijapur) on Tuesday afternoon.
Speaking for the first time at an election rally in two years, Gandhi not only highlighted the achievements of her party which is in power in the southern state but also criticised the plans and policies of the ruling NDA government at the Centre led by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Praising Siddaramaiah government for its schemes such as Indira canteens, Gandhi said that the Centre has opposed all developmental policies initiated by the UPA government.
She said that the Karnataka government has done a lot of work to help the people even though the Centre has been uncooperative. Gandhi said that Siddaramaiah has waived off loans of 22 lakh farmers to help them.
“To tackle the drought in Karnataka, the Karnataka CM asked for time from PM Modi to help you. Forget about helping the people, Modi even refused to meet the CM,” Gandhi said launching the sharpest accusation on the PM during the hustings before the 12 May polls.
“Modi insulted the people of the state and the families,” she added amid loud cheers from supporters.
Gandhi said that the Modi government gave other states thousands of crores to tackle drought but “rubbed salt on the wounds of people of Karnataka”.
“Is this what is his Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas?” she asked taking a jibe at the most popular slogan of the central government, which the PM has been repeating in the rallies across the state.
“Modi ji par Congress mukt bharat ka junoon hai, unhe iska bhoot laga hai, Congress mukt bharat to chhoriye, vo apne saamne kisi ko bardaash nahi kar sakte,” Gandhi mocked the PM’s popular call to his supporters.
“Modi indeed is a great orator. He makes speeches like an actor. I want him to make more such speeches if it fills the stomachs of the people. But his speech cannot fill the stomachs, cannot guarantee women empowerment, jobs, etc,” said the 71-year-old leader who is credited for bringing the Congress back from the brink in the late 1990s and into power for 10 years from 2004 to 2014.
Accusing the PM of distorting history, Gandhi said that Modi uses “freedom fighters as pawns in his game of politics”.
“Does this suit a Prime Minister? Have you ever seen a PM who speaks a lot but remains quiet on important matters?” asked Gandhi questioning the PM’s ‘silence’ on some crucial developments in the past.
Gandhi charged Modi government of failing to fulfil the promises made during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and tackled BJP for fielding tainted leaders in the Karnataka assembly elections.
“Why are corrupt leaders around you on the stage in Karnataka?” Gandhi questioned Modi. “Will you adopt their model, or will you adopt the model of the son of your best friend?” she asked referring to Amit Shah’s son Jay Shah.
Praising the district and slamming the BJP’s ‘divisive politics’, Gandhi said, “Bijapur is a confluence of cultures. From this land emerges the song of unity. Living harmoniously is the identity of Karnataka and India.”
Speaking at a rally in the same district earlier today the PM had cornered the Congress on various issues including women’s rights.
“I am surprised that this Congress is lecturing on women’s rights but blocked the triple talaq law we introduced in Parliament,” the PM said.
“A daughter is a daughter, whether a Muslim, Hindu, Christian. All daughters should get security,” he pointed out, adding that “vote bank politics should not be played on the lives of daughters”.
“It is the NDA Government that has got a tough law that will ensure safety of women,” he said referring to the amendment in the law which calls for capital punishment for rapists of children under 12 years of age.