Referring to Congress president Rahul Gandhi as “naamdaar” (dynast) and himself a “kaamdaar” (worker) Prime Minister Narendra Modi Tuesday accused the Congress of being anti-worker and pro-dynasty in its policies. Addressing his first rally since February to build BJP momentum for the assembly elections, Modi also challenged Rahul to speak for 15 minutes in any language including his “mother’s mother tongue”.
“The Congress president recently challenged me saying that if he speaks for 15 minutes in Parliament, I will not be able to sit. Him talking for 15 minutes is a big thing and I wonder what a scene it would be,’’ Modi said at an election rally in Santhemarahalli in Chamarajanagar district.
“It is true we will not be able to sit when he talks that is because he is naamdaar (a dynast) and we are kaamdaar (ordinary workers). What right do we workers have to sit in front of you? We cannot even wear good clothes. These things do not hurt us because we have been subjugated for years.”
Modi also countered Rahul with a challenge of his own and asked the Congress president to list out the achievements of the Karnataka government in a 15-minute speech.
“Forget about me. During this election in Karnataka pick a language of your choice – it can be Hindi or Kannada or even your mother’s mother tongue and then for 15 minutes without holding papers in your hand list out the achievements of your government in Karnataka over the last five years. Let him do this for 15 minutes before the people of Karnataka,’’ he said.
Continuing his attack on Rahul, Modi also referred to a recent incident when Rahul mispronounced the name of famed Karnataka engineer Sir M Visveswaraiah.
“Do one small thing as well in the course of the 15-minute speech say the name of Sri Visveswaraiah at least five times and if you do this, people can decide how much value there is in your words,’’ he said.
The PM also said Congress president Rahul Gandhi was disrespectful towards former prime minister and leader of the Janata Dal (Secular) party H D Devegowda. Addressing another public rally in the Udupi region he said, “You can imagine what lies ahead if he (Rahul) is so arrogant at such an early stage in his life. Such a Congress party and such arrogant people are a big danger for democracy. It is the responsibility of the people of Karnataka to fulfil the dreams of Mahatma Gandhi of dissolving the Congress,’’ the prime minister said.
“In politics, we have differences of opinion but there are some things you need to respect in public life. Everybody has his time but in public life, there must be ethics and values. Our former prime minister H D Devegowda is a son of the soil. Whenever he has sought time to meet me in Delhi I have met him. Not just that, when he comes to my house I open his car door and welcome him and when he leaves I go to the door and see him off.”
“From a political point of view he (Devegowda) is opposed to us, he actively thinks against us and in Parliament, he votes against us but he is one of our senior leaders and I must not forget it but I have heard that the Congress president in election rallies has attacked the respected Devegowdaji. Is this your culture?” he said.
Reacting to Modi’s remarks, Siddaramaiah said his comments established the fact that the BJP and JDS are in an alliance for the May 12 polls.
“I understand that the Prime Minister has praised the JDS leader H D Devegowda a lot. This is proof of an alliance between the two parties for the polls,” he said. Siddaramaiah had also claimed recently that BJP president Amit Shah and JDS state president H D Kumaraswamy met secretly on an aircraft and that he can substantiate the claim. The JDS and BJP have denied his claims.
The Prime Minister on the occasion of Labour Day on Tuesday also accused the Congress of disrespecting the achievements of ordinary workers by mocking an April 28 announcement of the electrification of all villages in the country.
Referring to the Congress decision to field Siddaramaiah from two constituencies and his son from one constituency as “a 2+1” formula invented by the Karnataka Chief Minister and the decision to field the children of many leaders as the “1+1” policy, the PM said this was hurting Congress workers.
“There is a 2+1 formula for the Chief Minister and a 1+1 formula for leaders and Congress workers are hurting because of this formula. Dynastic politics has destroyed democracy. We practice politics for the people and this politics will win over dynastic politics,’’ Modi said.
Modi began his speech on Tuesday by paying respects, in Kannada, to all major local deities, mutts, and prominent persons of Karnataka. The BJP’s chief ministerial candidate B S Yeddyurappa, his son B Y Vijayendra and other local leaders were present at the rally.