Battleground Karnataka on Tuesday saw an all out war of the titans with Prime Minister Narendra Modi attacking the Congress over corruption and divisive politics and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, addressing her first election rally in two years, questioning the Prime Minister on his policies and anti-corruption stand, while accusing him of indulging in hollow speeches that had failed to fill hungry stomachs in the country.
As Mrs Gandhi claimed that the Prime Minister is “possessed by the devil” of Congress-mukt Bharat, Congress president Rahul Gandhi turned up the heat on the BJP for fielding the “corrupt Reddy gang” and asserted that the fight in Karnataka is about “clean politics vs dirty politics” and “mafia vs people”.
Mr Modi said at a rally in Lingayat-dominated Vijayapura that the people of Karnataka have decided to uproot the Congress and punish it for its wrongdoings,
The Congress is already trying to find excuses like faulty EVMs for the impending defeat in the May 12 Assembly polls, said Mr Modi.
“I have toured across Karnataka in the past eight days and found that people are not only set to defeat the Congress but have decided to give the party a five-year punishment,”’ he added.
Taking on the Siddaramaiah government over alleged corruption, Mr Modi said that there is not even a single minister who is not facing accusations of financial irregularities. “The Congress believes in the policy of divide and rule… divide on the basis of caste and religion… Make brother fight brother. But people of this land of Basaveshwara will not allow it to happen,” he said.
At another rally in Bengaluru, Mr Modi said, “The BJP promises greater prosperity for farmers, better education, skill development, better opportunities for youth, more industrial development, a positive eco-system for industrial growth, an end to politics of dividing society and a safer state for women.”
He said that under the Congress government, Bengaluru’s infrastructure is crumbling and women’s safety is not a priority for the state government.
Mr Modi targeted Congress president Rahul Gandhi quipping that Mrs Gandhi had started attending election rallies in the state as voters would not support her son.
BJP president Amit Shah joined Mr Modi is slamming the Congress as he announced in Mangaluru that the Congress government led by Mr Siddaramaiah would be “sent home”’ on May 15.
Earlier, Mrs Gandhi, while addressing a rally in Vijayapura, trained her guns on Prime Minister Modi and said that he is “possessed by the devil” of “Congress-mukt Bharat”, and his only accomplishment in the last four years is to have undone the good work of the previous Congress governments.
Accusing the Prime Minister of being all talk and no substance, Mrs Gandhi admitted he is a good orator, but demanded to know if his speeches help fill hungry stomachs in the country.
Appealing to Mr Modi to “stop fooling people by delivering hollow speeches one after another”, the UPA chairperson, who arrived in Vijaypura a few hours after the Prime Minister’s rally there, said, “I agree that Mr Modi has the ability to deliver speeches. But I would like to ask him whether his speeches help fill people’s stomachs. If they did, I would want him to continue giving more and more speeches.”
“Mr Modi’s speeches can’t empower women and youth as you need a leader to implement effective programmes. Only speeches can’t find a solution to the grave problems which farmers in the country are facing today. To find a solution to country’s problems, a leader should have firm resolve to implement programmes effectively,” she stressed.
The UPA chairperson also lambasted Mr Modi on the corruption issue.
“What happened to Mr Modi’s promise of non-corruption? Where is Lok Pal? What is your model of anti-corruption?” she asked.
In an oblique reference to alleged corruption charges against BJP leaders and their kin, Mrs Gandhi, without naming the Reddy brothers or BJP chief Amit Shah and his son, asked if Mr Modi’s anti-corruption model was the one “adopted by his candidates in Karnataka, or by the son of your closest aide”.
Mrs Gandhi claimed that people were shocked at the way the Prime Minister repeatedly distorts Indian history. “Unfortunately, the PM uses even freedom fighters for his political gain. I want to ask you does this give any grace to a Prime Minister?’’ she demanded.
She also asked Mr Modi when he will fulfil the promises of creating jobs for the unemployed youth and what measures he has taken to provide security to women, children and the vulnerable.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi took to Twitter to raise the anti-BJP pitch.
“It’s a clear fight in Karnataka. Clean Politics vs Dirty Politics. Mafia vs People. With the BJP fielding the corrupt Reddy gang, we are trying a novel approach to fund our candidate. Support our candidate by making a contribution,” he said.
Mr Gandhi used the hashtag “CleanPoliticswithINC” and tagged a report entitled “You decide: Dirty politics versus Clean politics?” brought out by the Congress as part of its initiative to seek public contributions for funding its candidates.
The Karnataka Assembly elections are slated for May 12 and results will be out on May 15.