As the electoral heat reaches its peak in Karnataka, both BJP and Congress heightened the campaigning across the state. While Congress President Rahul Gandhi addressed a series of public meetings targeting the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the saffron party released its poll manifesto, making a plethora of promises to farmers.
Addressing a rally in Kalaburagi, Rahul Gandhi tried to corner PM Modi on issues of atrocities against Dalits. “PM Modi will never forget to mention Dalits in his public meetings. However, he will remain silent when a Dalit is actually attacked by his own party men,” said Gandhi, adding “the BJP-RSS is assaulting Dalits across the nation.”
Terming it a battle between two ideologies, Gandhi said, “On one side it’s the ideology of Congress, Basavanna and Karnataka, while on the other is the ideology of BJP and RSS which wants to impose a singular thinking that does not respect the culture, food, and heritage of Karnataka.” PM Modi neither understands nor follows Basavanna’s teachings, his words are hollow, added Gandhi at a public meeting in Gajendragarh. Gandhi once again raised the issue of BJP President Amit Shah’s son Jay Shah’s sudden jump in wealth and assets and said, “While businesses in India are having a difficult time, the firm owned by the son of BJP President turned Rs. 50,000 into Rs. 80 crore.” He also cornered the BJP for giving tickets to tainted Reddy brothers while talking about fighting corruption.
The BJP, meanwhile, promised a host of new initiatives for farmers, including farm loan waivers and other sops, freebies like laptops for students and smartphones for BPL women to a commission for cow protection in its manifesto. Unveiling the manifesto, Karnataka BJP president and its chief ministerial candidate B S Yeddyurappa, said that a ‘white paper’ will be brought out on the state’s financial health under the Congress rule after the BJP forms a government. Rahul Gandhi, however, termed the manifesto a “poorly crafted fiction, which offers nothing to voters.”
Earlier in the day, PM Modi addressed BJP women workers and said that the BJP government has always ensured important portfolios to women in the Union Cabinet. But the prime minister was slammed by Siddaramaiah for ridiculing those who participated in the candlelight protest in support of the Kathua and Unnao rape victims. Siddaramaiah said Modi was only ‘pretending’ to discuss women empowerment ahead of the elections. “Tokenism Modi ji. Yesterday, you ridiculed a candle-light march taken out to protest supporters of child rapists in Kathua, and today you pretend to talk about Nari Shakti.”
“Bengaluru, the city you ridiculed yesterday, leads the nation with 25 per cent women’s participation in the workforce. In Delhi, the city you live in, the rate is 10 per cent. We must be doing something right,” he said. Modi, on Thursday, had said that within five years the Congress government had turned Bengaluru, which was known as the country’s ‘Silicon Valley’, into ‘a valley of sin’, and the ‘garden city’ to ‘garbage city’.
Meanwhile, UP CM Yogi Adityanath who had been campaigning in the Karnataka for the BJP had to cut short his trip and return to UP following the death of over 70 people in the dust-storm that engulfed parts of the state a couple of days ago. Incumbent CM Siddaramaiah had taunted Adityanath on his absence from the state and said, “I am sorry your CM is needed here in Karnataka. I am sure he will return soon & attend to his work there.”
The state is set to go to the polls on May 12 while counting is scheduled for May 15.