Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi ended the ambiguity about his involvement in the upcoming Karnataka polls by fiercely hard selling the outgoing Jagadish Shettar government and launching a scathing attack on Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Sunday.
Modi called Gandhi a "man born with a golden spoon" who had no clue about the ills of the nation and mocked his earlier statement that "no single person could solve the country's problems", which was seen as an attack on the Gujarat strongman's prime ministerial ambitions.
Addressing by far the BJP's biggest gathering in the heart of the city since its image hit rock bottom, Modi asked the youth to "never trust" the Congress again.
He admitted that the first saffron government in the south had been plagued by infighting and rebellion by former chief minister BS Yeddyurappa, but emphasised that its track record in governance was better than Congress-ruled states.
Modi reserved his most pungent attack to counter Rahul Gandhi's statement that BJP is the "most corrupt party".
Modi's aggressive stance appeared to boost the morale of party workers and BJP general secretary Ananth Kumar announced that the Gujarat CM would again campaign in north Karnataka, which is seen as a battleground between Yeddyurappa's Karnataka Janata Party and the BJP.
Hitherto, Modi had agreed to do just one meeting, which was on Sunday.
By deciding to taken on the rebels, Modi ended any doubts that he was soft on Yeddyurappa who had expressed his willingness to return to the fold if Modi was declared the prime minister candidate for the 2014 polls.
Narendra Modi speaks during a campaign rally for the upcoming state elections
in Bengaluru. AP
Modi chose his Bengaluru rally to take on Rahul Gandhi's address to businessmen in the Capital when he had alluded to Modi's "prime ministerial ambitions" and said that the country's problems were so diverse that the solutions had to be found by the people themselves.
Modi reminded Gandhi that "there are instances when individuals have made a difference, like Sardar Patel did to solve the problem of integration of princely states after the Independence".
He also attacked Gandhi's address at the Jaipur session of the AICC in January, when he had spoken against giving an election ticket to those with a criminal background or those who had lost elections by more than 15,000 votes.
"Congress has thrown water over those commitments," Modi said.
Modi also took on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, saying that they could not turn a blind eye to the "massive corruption" under the UPA rule: "If you count the losses to the government under their rule, the figures would start from 7, Race Course Road and end up at 10, Janpath."
Modi's unsparing criticism was intended to heat up the campaign in the last week before Karnataka goes to polls on May 5, and make it clear that he would plunge along.
As BJP leaders observed, Modi was carried away by the slogans in his favour and realised that he could not appear to dither in involving himself when the results appear unpredictable.
Modi's campaign in Bengaluru was seen as oxygen for the BJP as it battles to retain 17 of the 28 in the region.
Hitherto, only Sushma Swaraj, leader of the opposition in Lok Sabha, has openly attacked Yeddyurappa and declared that his party would be "over" with the assembly polls.