At the rally in Chikkaballapur near Bengaluru Sunday. PTI
Days after H D Deve Gowda had threatened to leave Karnataka should Narendra Modi become prime minister, the latter teased him Sunday by welcoming him to Gujarat where he would be well looked after. And the former primer minister responded by advising him to look after the minorities in his state instead.
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Deve Gowda had made his threat at a rally in Shomoga. On Sunday, Modi took him on at rallies in Chikamagalur (neighbouring Deve Gowda’s Hassan constituenncy) and Chikkaballapur, where Deve Gowda’s son H D Kumaraswamy is the JD(S) candidate.
“Deve Gowda says if Modi becomes PM, I will leave Karnataka. He is like a father to me, so I say if you have to leave Karnataka come to Gujarat. I will welcome you,” Modi said in Chikamagalur.
In Chikkaballapur, he said, “I will arrange a farmhouse or guesthouse for him. I can arrange old-age care for him. Gowda can stay in my home if he wants. I will take care of him more than his sons would,” Modi said.
“Gowdaji you are an elderly man and a former prime minister. You must not say things like you will leave Karnataka if I become prime minister. I too am like your son.”
Deve Gowda said he would rather not live in Gujarat where the interests of all sections of society are not protected. “There is no security for ordinary citizens in Gujarat. I would not like to live there. I have my sons to look after me. Let Modi look after the interests of minorities in his state first,’’ Gowda said in Hassan.
Chikkaballapur, bordering Bangalore, is a water-starved constituency represented by Veerappa Moily, while the BJP candidate is B N Bachegowda. Here, too, Modi mocked Deve Gowda while attacking Moily.
Modi said Moily in 2009 had promised in the name of the goddess Bhuvaneswari Devi to bring water to the parched region. “This attitude is disrespectful… Gujarat too had a water problem but I solved it by setting up large pipelines. Deve Gowda, his son Kumaraswamy, and Veerappa Moily can drive a Maruti car through the pipelines in Gujarat, ‘’ said Modi, who accused Moily of spending most of his time counting LPG cylinders as a minister.
In the largely saffron district of Chikamagalur, Modi invoked Indira Gandhi, who had been elected to parliament from here in 1978, after Emergency.
“You once voted Indira Gandhi to power. The youth of today may not know this because people like Indira Gandhi do not exist in the Congress anymore,” Modi said.
“You have given Indira Gandhi your support in her bad days. You understood her problems. I will do 10 times what she did if you vote for me to be PM,” Modi told at Chikamagalur, which turned into a BJP bastion in the post Indira Gandhi and Ram Temple period until the newly delimited seat of Udupi-Chikamagalur was wrested by the Congress in 2012.
Modi asked voters to back Udupi-Chikamagalur candidate Shobha Karandlaje, close aide of B S Yeddyurappa, just as they had backed Indira Gandhi more. Karandlaje and local leader C T Ravi raised the issue of Indian Mujahideen terrorist Yasin Bhatkal having used Chikamagalur as his hideout, and claimed the only one who can send anti-nationals back to Pakistan and Afghanistan would be Modi.