PM Modi says BJP ‘storm’ coming, attacks Rahul in Karnataka campaign blitz
Modi accused the Congress government of initiating what he termed a culture of “ease of doing murder” and dared Rahul Gandhi to speak for 15 minutes on the Karnataka government’s achievements without reading out from a piece of paper.Updated: May 01, 2018 23:05 IST
Starting a whirlwind five-day, 15-rally push to get his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over the halfway mark in the Karnataka assembly, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Tuesday that he saw a “storm,” not a “wave,” in favour of his party, targeted the state government for corruption, and ridiculed chief minister Siddaramaiah for what he termed a “2+1” strategy of contesting two constituencies even while handing over his own to his son.
Modi also highlighted his government’s achievements, including the latest one of electrifying all villages in the country, in one of the three rallies he addressed on Tuesday. Most opinion polls have predicted a hung assembly, with neither the Congress nor the BJP achieving a simple majority, leaving former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda’s Janata Dal (Secular) in the enviable position of deciding who gets to form the next government in the state.
Modi dismissed concerns of a hung assembly and said his party would get a clear majority; however, he seemed to be keeping his options open by not targeting the JD(S), and mentioning his regard for Deve Gowda, albeit in the context of a comparison between how the Congress insults a senior leader, and he (Modi) doesn’t. “I even receive him at the door, hold his vehicle’s door open whenever we meet,” he added.
Reacting sharply, Siddaramaiah said this is a clear indication that both the parties have an internal understanding. And he pointed to the fact that Modi himself had contested two Lok Sabha seats in the last parliamentary elections, and gave his own spin to the “2+1” strategy on Twitter.
He stated that it was the BJP that had one, and that it involved “two Reddys” and “one Yeddy” , playing on the candidature of the controversial Ballari Reddys and former chief minister BS Yeddyurappa.
JD(S) leader and former chief minister HD Kumaraswamy, however, rubbished Siddaramaiah’s allegation of an internal understanding, saying: “To even describe a leader’s achievements or praise one freely, one should have culture. In finding fault with Modi’s praise and tweeting about it indicates the negative mindset of Siddaramaiah.”
Modi also tore into the ruling Congress party in Karnataka, saying that the law and order situation in the state had deteriorated and claimed that the state government had only enabled ‘ease of doing murder,’ citing the death of nearly two dozen BJP workers in the state. He said the people would ‘punish’ the Congress party in the May 12 election.
Modi spoke at three rallies covering southern, coastal and northern Karnataka. In Santemarahalli in Chamrajnagar, south Karnataka, he spoke of his government’s effort to ensure that electricity reached all villages across the country, ahead of a deadline he had set three years back. He added that the Manmohan Singh led UPA government had made a similar promise in 2005 to electrify all villages by 2009, but failed.
According to Modi, this is because his party was into‘Kaamdar’ (work oriented ) politics and not ‘Naamdar’ (name-based or dynastic) politics. Reacting to Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s demand to be allowed to speak at least 15 minutes in Parliament, Modi challenged him to speak in any language for 15 minutes on the Karnataka government’s achievements, without any notes.
In the afternoon, speaking in Udupi, he said that while banks had been nationalized (by the Congress) in the name of the poor, these very people were kept away from the doors of the banks. Modi said that his government’s Jan Dhan Yojana had enabled access to banks for the poor.
In his last rally of the day, addressing voters in Chikkodi, Belagavi district in Northern Karnataka, Modi asked the electorate to vote for BJP so as to have the same party ruling at the Centre and in the state. Accusing the CM of sleeping instead of working for development, he said the elections were an opportunity to change the fortunes of the state.
Two hot-button issues of the day -- the agrarian crisis and the rights of Dalits -- found mention in Modi’s speeches. In one speech, he claimed the Congress was anti-Dalit and said India’s first prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had campaigned against Dalit icon BR Ambedkar. In another, he said that after forming the government in 2014, his government had discovered that there was no ownership for about 99 agriculture- and irrigation-related projects, including five in Karnataka. He also lauded BJP’s chief ministerial candidate B S Yeddyurappa for introducing a separate agri-budget in the state in his earlier stint as the state’s CM.
Afzal Amanullah, former parliamentary affairs secretary, said: “The Karnataka election campaign is set to become much shriller. And it’s no longer a battle for state but also has larger, national ramifications.”
PM Modi will be again in Karnataka on May 3.