Rahul Gandhi harped repeatedly on the need for a stable government in Karnataka during his whistlestop election tour on Monday, and insisted that only the Congress could provide one.
“Karnataka was one of the country’s fastest progressing states. But sad to say, you have lost your place. Other states are progressing faster than you,” he told a large crowd in Kundapur town of Udipi district, his English speech translated into Kannada by Congress leader Veerappa Moily.
“I came to Karnataka for the first time in 2003 when the Congress was in power,” he said at Harapanahalli in Davangere district. “It seemed like a state on the right path. I returned a month ago and was dismayed to find the last government had stopped the growth of the state with its lack of vision and lust for power.”
With the state abuzz with speculation about who will be chief minister in case of a Congress win, political observers drew their own conclusions from Rahul’s repeated praise of former Congress chief minister S.M. Krishna’s government (1999-2004). “That government was farsighted and right in its programmes on education, information technology and overall development,” said Rahul. “We need such a government here, and elsewhere in India as well.”
At every stop, he also took on the BJP for accusing the UPA government of being soft on terrorism, reminding the audience about the NDA’s craven response during the hijack of the Indian Airlines aircraft to Kandahar in December 1999.
At Harapanahalli he briefly touched on local politics, taking potshots at BJP candidate Karunakar Reddy, an iron ore magnate from neighbouring Bellary.
The crowd was impressive at the Congress bastion despite the meeting starting late.