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Karnataka elections: Rahul Gandhi asks PM Modi to follow Basavanna’s teachings

PM Narendra Modi had invoked the Lingayat saint to claim that he, Basavanna, was the founder of democracy in India and not, as is believed, Jawaharlal Nehru.

india Updated: Feb 24, 2018 23:42 IST
Vikram Gopal
Vikram Gopal
Hindustan Times, Athani (Belagavi)
Rahul Gandhi,PM Modi,Narendra Modi
Congress President Rahul Gandhi and Karnataka chief minister M Siddaramaiah wave during the second leg of Janashirvad Yatra ahead of Karnataka assembly elections, at Athani in Belagavi.(PTI Photo)

Kicking off the second leg of his Karnataka Janashirvada Yatra, Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Saturday asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to follow 13th century philosopher Basavanna and not just pay lip service to him.

Modi had invoked the revered Lingayat saint on Februrary 7 to claim that he, Basavanna, was the founder of democracy in India about 800 years ago and not, as is believed, Jawaharlal Nehru, the country’s first prime minister. Modi had dedicated a large part of his speech to criticise the Congress party.

Gandhi on Saturday quoted Basavanna’s dictum to say that the Congress government in Karnataka has delivered on the promises it had made to the people.

“Modi, too, had made promises about employment and bringing back black money. Now, remember Basavanna’s words. Did Modi fulfil any of his promises? So what is the meaning behind taking his name?” questioned Gandhi in the state’s Lingayat-dominated Mumbai-Karnataka region.

There are many prominent Lingayat monasteries in the region and Basavanna, who is credited with having founded the sect, is a revered saint here. Gandhi referred to Basavanna’s five principles of staying away from stealing, lying, spreading hatred, using violence and praising oneself to hit out at Modi.

He said Dalits, adivasis and minority communities were being attacked every day in BJP-ruled states such as Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan.

“Basavanna said don’t praise yourself. Whatever is done by his party or the government, the credit goes to Modi. The army takes action but Modi takes the credit. Nitin Gadkari, Sushma Swaraj do no work, only Modi does,” Gandhi said.

Gandhi said the PM accuses the state government of being corrupt but fails to talk about former chief minister BS Yeddyurappa, who was taken into custody for illegal denotification of land. “He speaks a lot but doesn’t talk about the Rafale deal. Demonetisation destroyed many businesses but the business of Jay Shah (son of BJP chief Amit Shah) earns a profit and Modi doesn’t speak about that,” Gandhi said.

He also accused the PM of lying when he promised to bring back black money and deposit it in everybody’s accounts and providing 20 million jobs a year.

Gandhi also raised the issue of billionaire jeweller Nirav Modi fleeing the country after acquiring bank loans illegally. ”Nirav Modi runs away with Rs 11,500 crore but Modi says we will investigate. How did you let this happen? Basavanna said don’t steal and you let this happen under your watch,” Gandhi said.

”If you want false promises go to Modi’s rally. But if you want kaam ki baat, not Mann ki baat, come to us. Support the party of brotherhood and love,” Gandhi said,canvassing votes for the party in the upcoming elections, scheduled to be held in May.

Gowda, former Karnataka chief minister, questioned the Congress on the frauds in the public sector banks while blaming the UPA government for weakening the banking system.

Countering Gandhi, Union minister DV Sadananda Gowda said the Congress party should not lay claim to Basavanna’s legacy. “Over several years they have acted in a manner that is completely opposed to the teachings of Basavanna, so they have no locus standi to appropriate him now,” he said.

First Published: Feb 24, 2018 21:43 IST