Updated: April 26, 2018 9:16:48 pm
Hitting back at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for levelling corruption allegations against the Siddaramaiah government in Karnataka, Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Thursday claimed that the BJP had given tickets to eight tainted candidates for the upcoming state Assembly election.
Gandhi, back in Karnataka for the seventh leg of his poll campaign, questioned the prime minister’s authority to speak on corruption while being surrounded by BJP leaders accused of financial wrongdoing. “Modiji comes here and speaks about corruption. When (fugitive diamantaire) Nirav Modi, whom Narendra Modi knows very well…knows by the first name, runs away with Rs 30,000 crore, he does not utter a word.
“When he (Modi) stands on a stage, on his one side is Yeddyurappa, who has spent time in jail, on the other side there are four others, who have been to jail, and Modiji speaks about corruption,” he told a gathering during a road-show. Modi has often targeted the Siddaramaiah-led Congress regime in Karnataka over alleged corruption, calling it a “10 per cent commission government”.
Without taking any names, Gandhi alleged that the BJP had given tickets to eight candidates, who were accused of corruption, for the May 12 Karnataka Assembly polls. “They have given tickets to eight corrupt persons. This is the truth,” he said and referred to the controversial and influential Reddy brothers of Ballari, linked to the alleged iron ore mining scam.
Two brothers of the alleged kingpin of the scam, G Janardhana Reddy — Karunakara and Somashekhara — are contesting the Karnataka polls on BJP tickets. “When in power, Yeddyurappa and Reddy Brothers looted Karnataka. Our Govt. brought them to justice. Now Mr Modi is trying to take 8 of them from jail, into the Vidhan Sabha. This is an insult to every honest citizen, to Karnataka and to the spirit of Basavanna (sic),” the Congress chief had tweeted on Wednesday.
Gandhi, during his campaign, has frequently invoked Basavanna, the 12th-century social reformer who is worshipped by the numerically strong and politically influential Lingayat community in the state, for which the Siddaramaiah government has recommended a religious minority status, a move that has been dubbed by the BJP as an attempt to divide the Hindus. The Lingayats have hitherto largely backed the saffron party in elections.
Terming the Karnataka polls a fight between two ideologies, Gandhi said on one side, there was the Congress, while on the other, the BJP-RSS. “Support the Congress and we will work for the poor and needy,” he added. Insisting that government funds should reach the common man, who works hard to meet his day-to-day needs and contributes to the progress of Karnataka and the country, Gandhi claimed that the BJP-RSS did not believe so.
“They feel that the money should go to the pockets of the five to 10 rich industrialists. This is the difference in ideology. We say the poor, the farmers, the marginalised and the people of Karnataka should get the benefits. They say the benefits should go to five to 10 rich businessmen,” he said. The Congress chief also hit out at the Centre over the alleged waiver of huge bank loans of industrialists, a benefit denied to the farmers.
“If you (Modi) don’t want to waive the loans taken by the farmers, then make me understand, every year, why do you waive lakhs of crores of rupees of loans obtained by 10 rich industrialists of the country,” he said and claimed that the Centre had waived loans amounting to Rs 2.5 lakh crore of 15 “super rich” people of the country.
Claiming that the Congress and Chief Minister Siddaramaiah had worked for the welfare of farmers and the poor, Gandhi accused Modi of making false promises and asked the people whether Rs 15 lakh had been deposited in their bank accounts, as promised by the prime minister in the run-up to the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
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