The temperature of the election season in Karnataka went up by quite a few degrees on Tuesday with Prime Minister Narendra Modi targeting both the ruling Congress in the state and the party’s president Rahul Gandhi at the same time.
Addressing three rallies in the poll-bound state, PM Modi accused the Congress of blocking all developmental initiatives of the Centre, claimed that he is witnessing a “BJP storm” in the state, and countered Rahul Gandhi’s 15-minute challenge with a challenge of his own.
“Where there is Congress, all roads that lead to development are blocked. There is only family politics, corruption and lack of harmony,” Modi told a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) rally in Santhemarahalli village, about 163 km south of Bengaluru.
“We hear in Delhi that there is a BJP wave in Karnataka. But as I see it, it’s not just a wave but a storm,” thundered Modi.
“I was told there is a ‘wave’ for BJP. There is not a BJP wave in Karnataka but it is a BJP storm,” he claimed.
The PM asked why the UPA government didn’t implement former prime minister Manmohan Singh’s vision to electrify every village by 2009
“Dr Manmohan Singh had said he will provide electricity to every village by 2009. What happened to that? In four years they could electrify only two villages. In any case, we saw how the Congress treated Dr Manmohan Singh. They tore off ordinances and disrespected him,” he alleged.
Announcing that his government will work towards electrifying each household in the country, PM Modi told the gathering that on 28 April, his government had succeeded in electrifying every village in the country.
“I want to dedicate the historical achievement of the country on 28 April, when all villages in India were electrified, to the workers and labourers of the country on this Labour Day,” he said.
Responding to the Congress president’s challenge, PM Modi dared the 47-year-old Gandhi to speak for the same duration on the achievements of his party in Karnataka without reading from a piece of paper.
The PM also took a dig at Gandhi’s claim that the PM won’t be able to sit in the Parliament for 15 minutes were he allowed to speak.
“Congress ke adhyaksh ji aapne sahi kaha tha hum aapke samne nahi baith sakte. Aap namdar hai. Hum kamdaro ki kya haisiyat ki aapke aage baith payen. (You were right, Congress president, we, who bank on our work, cannot sit before you. After all, what is our stature that we dare to sit before you who bank on their names),” said Modi.
The 67-year-old PM added, “I challenge you (Rahul Gandhi) to speak for 15 minutes on the achievements of your government in Karnataka without reading from any piece of paper. You can speak in Hindi, English or your mother’s mother tongue.”
Modi also attacked Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah and the Congress for indulging in “family politics”.
“For the Chief Minister (Siddaramaiah) the rule is ‘2+1’, where he will contest from two seats and has given his old seat (Varuna in Mysuru district) to his son (Yathindra) and for the other ministers (in the state cabinet), the rule seems to be ‘1+1’, allowing their relatives to fight polls,” he said.
In another rally in Udupi, the PM alleged that there has been a rise in crimes under the rule of the Congress.
“Violence cannot be accepted in a democracy. It is shameful how BJP Karyakartas were murdered in Karnataka. The Congress must answer on increasing crimes,” he said while @BJP4Indiaaccusing the Congress of “developing the culture of ease of doing murder”. He repeated the charge at his third rally in Belagavi.
“In the last two years scores of BJP karyakartas have been murdered because they believed in a different ideology,” said Modi in Belagavi, 507 kilometres north of Bengaluru.
“In Karnataka, where Lokayukta can be attacked, the common man cannot be safe,” said Modi while underlining that his government had brought in the ordinance that gives death penalty to those who rape children under the age of 12.
Karnataka’s anti-graft ombudsman Justice P Vishwanatha Shetty was stabbed at his office by a man in the state capital on 7 March.
In Belagavi, the 67-year-old Prime Minister alleged that the Congress neither believed in nor respected Babasaheb Ambedkar’s views. He also asked the people to “fulfil Mahatma Gandhi’s wish of disbanding the Congress party” by voting out the party from the state.
Referring to his own rise, the PM claimed that the Congress is jealous because a man from a humble background became the Prime Minister.
During the rallies, the PM assured the people that the BJP will leave no stone unturned to fulfil aspirations of people of Karnataka and ensure all round development of the state.
He appealed to the people to vote for politics of honesty and reject Congress’ “family politics”.
While the PM spoke in Hindi in all three rallies, his speech in Santhemarahalli was translated into Kannada – a first since his visits to the southern state. He is slated to address another 12 rallies over a period of four days in the state which goes to polls on 12 May.
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