DISCOUNTING ANY ‘Modi magic’ in Karnataka ahead of the May 12 assembly polls, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said on Sunday that the Prime Minister’s speeches were “hollow” and his language did not befit his office.
“Modi cannot do any magic here in Karnataka because his speeches are hollow, baseless and far from the truth. My campaigning is more than Modi’s campaigning. They are spending more money on the campaign than us… so it seems like Modi magic,’’ Siddaramaiah said at an interaction with the press.
Over the past week, the BJP’s rallies for Prime Minister Narendra Modi have seen huge crowds across the state, creating the impression that his arrival in the poll campaign was likely to lift the party’s flagging spirits. While Modi was earlier scheduled to address 15 rallies, the number has been increased to 21 in the final lap.
“In these polls, the BJP is heavily dependent on Modi, because none of their local leaders have any face value — be it (B S) Yeddyurappa, Ananth Kumar, Anantkumar Hegde or (K S) Eshwarappa. They cannot influence people in a major way,’’ said Siddaramaiah,
“It is a fact that Modi does have an influence in Karnataka. Modi has come seven-eight times so far for the polls, but while we expected him to speak like the Prime Minister of India — about what his government has done and what the BJP will do — his campaign has been disappointing,’’ he said.
“There is a feeling that the BJP is a cultured party, but the language used in the campaign by the BJP has been far from cultured and parliamentary. The language used by the Prime Minister and other BJP leaders has been poor in the campaign,’’ he said, while asserting that he had responded strongly only after baseless allegations were made about his government.
“The Prime Minister has called the Siddaramaiah government a 10 per cent government — do they have any proof for this? I have to react to these remarks. He keeps saying ‘Seeda Rupaiah’ government what should I say. They have so many agencies to collect evidence but what is the evidence he has to substantiate these allegations that it is a 10 per cent government. What is the evidence to show say that it is a ‘Seedha Rupaiah’ government,’’ Siddaramaiah said.
Denying that the poll battle was a fight between him and Modi, he said: “This election is not between Siddaramaiah and Modi, but it is between Yeddyurappa and Siddaramaiah. People will decide whether looters should be given power or whether a government which has performed should be given power.”
“There is no pressure on me to deliver, whether this is considered a semi-final for the Lok Sabha polls or not. A victory for the Congress in this election in Karnataka will, however, be a stepping stone for the 2019 Parliament polls,’’ he said.
“If you look at the reality of the elections, the claims of BJP and JD(S) of being in a position to win the polls on their own do not have credence. On the surface, this election looks like a battle between three parties. But in reality, there is no battle between three parties in all parts of the state. In some parts, the fight is between Congress and BJP, and in other parts, the battle is between Congress and JD(S). Only the Congress has a presence in every district,’’ said Siddaramaiah.
The Chief Minister questioned Modi’s speech in Gadag on Saturday, where he blamed former Congress president Sonia Gandhi for an impasse on the Mahadayi river-sharing dispute between Karnataka, Goa and Maharashtra.
“Now the PM has claimed that it is Sonia Gandhi who has hindered implementation of the Mahadayi project. Sonia Gandhi never became the prime minister of this country. He is the prime minister for the last four years, and, by dumping his responsibility on someone else, he has shown lack of statesmanship. He never spoke about the Mahadayi dispute earlier,’’ he said.
“When we took an all-party delegation to him on the Mahadayi issue, he did not say he would try to convince all the states involved in the dispute. But he told us it was not possible to resolve the issue, and that we should approach the Goa Congress. Is this the way the Prime Minister of a country should speak. In a federal structure, it is his responsibility to resolve disputes,’’ Siddaramaiah said, adding that both Indira Gandhi and A B Vajpayee had, as prime ministers, intervened to resolve river disputes between states.
“Both Amit Shah and Narendra Modi have been exposed before the people of Karnataka. Their small-mindedness has been exposed. The BJP had high hopes from Modi, that he would do something. They are hoping Amit Shah will use some tactics and do some magic. Nothing has happened. There is no sign of any Chanakya in their strategies. If lying to the people is being a Chanakya, then I don’t know,’’ he said.
Siddaramaiah said the BJP’s decision to project Yeddyurappa as chief minister was a positive factor for the Congress. “The BJP has attacked us over Anna Bhagya, but now they want to replicate it. BJP is a U-turn party. They opposed GST, and then did an about turn when in power. They opposed NREGA, and then supported it. Yeddyurappa said in 2009 that he cannot waive farm loans because the state does not have money machines, but he has now announced loan waivers if voted to power,’’ Siddaramaiah said.