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Battle of Vijayapura: Modi, Sonia duel in Lingayat stronghold as Karnataka campaign heats up

The high-pitched campaign for the Karnataka assembly elections heated up on Tuesday after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress leader Sonia Gandhi squared off in the Lingayat stronghold of Vijayapura

india Updated: May 08, 2018 22:41 IST
Agencies
Agencies
Vijayapura/Bengaluru
Sonia Gandhi’s rally in Vijayapura in north Karnataka, where Lingayats wield considerable electoral influence, was seen as an attempt to reach out to the community, which has traditionally backed the BJP.
Sonia Gandhi’s rally in Vijayapura in north Karnataka, where Lingayats wield considerable electoral influence, was seen as an attempt to reach out to the community, which has traditionally backed the BJP. (Combination photo)
         

With just two days left for the Karnataka election campaign to end, the Lingayat stronghold of Vijayapura on Tuesday saw a showdown between the BJP’s star campaigner, Prime Minister Narendra Modi , and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi claimed the people of Karnataka had decided to “uproot” the Congress and “punish” it for its wrongdoings, and that the party was already trying to find excuses like faulty electronic voting machines for its “impending” defeat.

Campaigning in Vijayapura, he alleged the state’s ruling Congress was trying to divide society and spread the “poison of casteism”.

The Vijaypura rally was one of three Modi addressed on Tuesday. He took on the Siddaramaiah-led Congress government in Karnataka over alleged corruption at all three rallies.

Hours later, Sonia Gandhi addressed a Congress election rally in Vijayapura, and claimed the PM was “possessed by the devil” of getting India rid of the Congress. This rally was Gandhi’s first was after a gap of two years.

His only accomplishment in the last four years was to have undone the good work of the previous Congress governments, she said. “Modi ji is proud that he can make speeches well. I agree he is a good orator. He speaks like an actor. If speeches could fill the country’s stomach, I wish he gave more speeches,” she said, taking a swipe at Modi.

Sonia Gandhi’s rally in Vijayapura in north Karnataka, where Lingayats wield considerable electoral influence, was seen as an attempt to reach out to the community, which has traditionally backed the BJP. The Karnataka government recently recommended Lingayats be classified as a separate religion.

She also alleged Modi’s government had done nothing for the middle class, women, girls, dalits and backward classes. Taking on the PM over steps to tackle corruption, she wanted to know why the Lokpal, the proposed anti-graft ombudsman, had not been constituted.

Sonia claimed Congress-ruled Karnataka was discriminated against as it got “too little” by way of central assistance for drought relief. “Modi ji, is this your sab ka saath, sab ka vikas? (together will all, development of all),” she asked.

Meanwhile, in Bengaluru, Congress president Rahul Gandhi attacked the BJP and the RSS, likening them to the Islamist organisation Muslim Brotherhood, and saying their agenda was to come to power and capture institutions.

“The BJP and RSS will repeat one more cycle of getting elected democratically and then discard democracy,” he alleged.

“The RSS over here and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt,Pakistan, Tunisia, Turkey....they are doing the same thing. The RSS and Muslim Brotherhood do not see elections the way we see them. We win an election and we are okay with losing an election,” he said.

Rahul, who earlier in the day said he was ready to occupy the post of the prime minister if the Congress emerged as the “biggest” party after the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, claimed the saffron outfits were trying to disrupt open- minded atmosphere, peace and the brotherhood that existed in India.

He said the BJP praised Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and B R Ambekdar upfront but destroyed their legacy. “Their method is to praise the leader, praise the icon,worship the icon and destroy every single thing he used to do.”

First Published: May 08, 2018 22:16 IST

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