Updated: May 1, 2018 11:01:16 pm
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday sounded poll bugle in Karnataka by unleashing a scathing attack on Congress president Rahul Gandhi and daring him “to speak in any language” for 15 minutes about the achievements of the Siddaramaiah government without reading out from a piece of paper.
Addressing the first of the 15 election rallies he is scheduled to address over the next few days, PM Modi hit out at the Congress president and said those currently leading the party had “no understanding” of history and the country’s legacy. “I dare the Congress president to speak in Hindi, English or the mother tongue of his mother to deliver a speech in Karnataka for 15 minutes, without reading out from a piece of paper, on the achievements of the party government… people of Karnataka will draw their own conclusion,” said Modi.
The prime minister was responding to Rahul Gandhi’s challenge of allowing him to speak for 15 minutes in Parliament on various issues, including corruption, and that the prime minister will not be able to sit for 15 minutes. “His speaking for 15 minutes will itself is a big thing. And when I hear that I would not be able to sit, I think…wow, what a scene it is? Congress president, Sir, we cannot sit before you. You are ‘naamdar’ (famous), while I am ‘kaamdar’ (ordinary worker). We have no status to sit in front of you,” he said. Modi also claimed, “A storm and not a simple wave” was blowing in the BJP’s favour in the state.
Attacking “dynastic politics” in the Congress, he also took a dig at Siddaramaiah for contesting from two seats and fielding his son in another. Modi termed it as the Kannada version of Congress’ family politics. “I was reading a newspaper a couple of days ago and I found that in Karnataka 2+1 formula is going on. This is nothing but the Kannada version of Congress’ dynastic politics,” he said.
While slamming Gandhi, he asked him also to pronounce the name of Visveswaraya five times, apparently taking a swipe at the Congress leader who struggled to pronounce the legendary engineer-scholar’s name at a public rally, whose video had gone viral.
The prime minister also assailed the Siddaramaiah government for initiating the culture of “ease of doing murder”, as he launched the second leg of his campaign blitz in the state for the assembly elections. He also accused the successive Congress governments at the Centre of allowing a handful of people to “loot” banks while denying loans to poor.
Addressing a public gathering in Udupi, Modi claimed over two dozen BJP workers were killed under the Congress government in Karnataka in political violence. “What was their crime? It was that they were opposed to your views, they raised their voice for the people of Karnataka. We want to encourage the ease of doing business, they (the Congress) have initiated the culture of ease of doing murder,” he said.
He asked the audience whether or not the Congress should not be banished from Karnataka and the country, and should not the mentality of political violence end. A lustily cheering audience responded with shouts of “yes, yes”. Modi also referred to Mahatma Gandhi’s insistence on disbanding the Congress after independence, and said with the party facing defeat after defeat in the last four years, the Father of the Nation’s “last dream” was about to materialise with its decimation in the Karnataka polls.
“There was a time when the poor had no bank accounts, they could not even think of going to a bank. They were out of the economic mainstream, out of the banking system. We started the Jan Dhan scheme for them. “The earlier Congress governments allowed a handful of people to loot banks, but denied loans to the youth, farmer, the poor,” added the prime minister.
PM Modi also accused Congress of mistreating Baba Saheb Ambedkar. “It is a well-known fact that the Congress party has mistreated Baba Saheb Ambedkar. The party never accepted Baba Saheb’s view and today they are spreading lies before every election,” Modi said while addressing his final public gathering in Belagavi.
He further assailed Congress, saying that the party, when out of power, is like a fish without water. Recalling the period of Emergency, Modi said that Congress was the first to assault the Constitution, just to ensure that they remain in power. “Congress is jealous because it was our government that got the majority and a person for humble background became the prime minister,” Modi said. And that is why “they are spreading lies, dividing people on the grounds of caste,” he added.
He also said that many take pride in calling themselves political pundits and they attempt to analyze elections every time. “Earlier too, attempts were made to analyse elections and these people said that it will be a hung House in 2014 Lok Sabha polls. Again, similar lies were repeated. But mark my words, every time you hear the poll pundits rambling about a hung house it means that the Congress is up for a massive defeat. This is just a way to defend Congress,” PM Modi said.
Polling for the 224-member assembly will be held on May 12, and results will be declared on 15th.
(With inputs from agencies)
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