“Criminals rule the roost in Karnataka and not law. When the world is focussing on ease of doing business, the Congress government is talking about ease of doing murder,” said Prime Minister Narendra Modi, sounding the poll bugle in Bengaluru on Sunday, at a rally to mark the culmination of BJP's 75-day statewide Parivartana rally.
Modi who started his speech in Kannada launched a verbal attack on Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and his government alleging “corruption” and “lawlessness” in the state. Referring to the series of murders of Hindu activists in the state, which has become a flashpoint of the two national parties, Modi said, “The situation is so bad that anybody who opposes the Karnataka government is risking one's life. It is dangerous for the democracy. Iss chhot ka jawab vote se dena hai (respond to this hurt with your votes). Throw out this government. It is time for Karnataka to become free from crime, corruption, dynasty and divisive politics,” said Modi exhorting a cheering crowd at Palace Grounds in the city.
“I look around and feel during my earlier visits I had not witnessed what I am doing now. I can see the winds are changing. This is the land of spiritual leaders who have guided this country. This saffron wave is telling us that the countdown for Congress' exit in Karnataka has begun. Congress is at the exit gate. I can see that Karnataka is determined to make the state Congress-mukt (free from Congress) not just politically but socially and culturally, too,” said Modi.
In his address, Modi recalled the names of Karnataka's icons—Nadaprabhu Kempegowda Mahatma Basavaeshwara, Maadara Chennaiah, Veera Rani Kittur Chennamma, Sangolli Rayanna, Shishunala Sharief and Sir M.V. Visveswariah—and said, “This is a land blessed by such great men. You must help build a new Karnataka by voting BJP to power, which believes in inclusive development—Sabka Saat and Sabka Vikas.”
Making serious allegations against the state government, Modi said that the Congress government was now better known as “10 per cent Sarkar”.
“The culture of 'commission' (bribe) and 'cuts' runs rampart in the state. People now say no work happens without 10 per cent 'commission'. There are serious corruption charges; houses of two Congress ministers and a senior leader have been raided by the I-T. Builder mafia, transfer mafia, lake mafia, sand mafia and countless such mafias operate in the state. Corruption ka nanga naach chalta hai,” charged Modi, citing the example of steel-bridge project and calling it a big conspiracy to usurp huge amount of money. The project was later called off owing to strong resistance from the citizens and the opposition, he said.
Interestingly, Modi hailed Karnataka's people as selfless and hardworking and attributed the success of U-19 Indian team in the World Cup to the efforts of coach Rahul Dravid. “It is Karnataka culture and ethos to work selflessly. But the Congress government has nothing to do with this as they go by the party's own tradition,” he said.
“If BJP is elected in Karnataka, it would expedite development of the state and set global benchmark in infrastructure development—be it metro rail, railway connectivity, better education or health facilities,” Modi added.
“BJP is committed to 'ease of living' of the common man. In Karnataka, our Mudra scheme has approved one crore loans, Bima Yojna has insured one crore people, 8.5 lakh women have been provided free gas connection under Ujwala, nine lakh children vaccinated under Indradhanush, and 34 lakh toilets were built under Swachch Bharat mission. Through Soubhagya Yojna, we hope to electrify four crore homes, of which seven lakh homes will be in Karnataka,” said the prime minister.
In a bid to counter Sidadramaiah's rhetoric on Centre's “discriminatory” allocation of grants to the state, Modi said: “When UPA was in power, it gave only Rs 73,000 crore to Karnataka. During our tenure we decided to give 2 lakh crore, in addition to Rs 40,000 crore for various other schemes. Do you feel these funds have been utilised well in this state by the government? My government is focussed on 'ease of living'. If the government had been efficient, the benefits of our schemes would have reached Karnataka, too.”
He further alleged that the Congress government was complacent in implementing even the Swacch Bharat Mission, when the entire country was enthusiastic about it.
“Only 40 per cent of the target has been achieved, and even the Smart City Mission has not taken off work on projects worth Rs 143 crore (out of a total allocation of Rs 836 crore),” noted Modi, adding that the BJP was inclined to “reform, perform and transform”, which was evident from their approach to farmers' issues.
“After giving impetus to irrigation schemes, crop insurance, neem-coated urea and issuing of soil health cards (11 crore) , there has been a record production of food grains and horticulture produces. We intend to give 1.5 times of the investment cost as minimum support price (MSP) to farmers. To ensure that the benefit reaches the farmers, we will implement it along with the states. If the son of a farmer, Yedyurappa becomes the CM, it will benefit the farmers as he works for the best interest of the farmers,” said Modi also mooting “Operation Greens” on the lines of the milk revolution, to empower vegetable and fruit growers.
“The interlinking of 22,000 grameen haat and 580 APMCs will ensure the farmers get a fair price for their produce. Three vegetables - tomato, onion and potato will be our top priority. Operation Greens will function as milk cooperatives and will be exempt from tax. Our budgetary allocation of Rs 14.5 lakh crore for rural development and agriculture will reduce migration from villages and also decongest cities,” said Modi.
Hitting back at the Congress for its 'pakoda protests' against Modi's statements on job creation (in his recent TV interview) by the state Congress, Modi spoke of the aspiration of a middle class educated youth and said, “The youth today have aspiration and enthusiasm to work, which is energising the country. Our Skill India, Standup India and Startup India have created one crore entrepreneurs. Youth aspires to be job creators and not a job seekers.”
Modi insults Karnataka, reacts Congress
KPCC president G. Parameshwara was quick to respond to the charges made by the prime minister, dubbed his statements as “irresponsible” and “unconstitutional”.
“Mr Modi has made serious allegations against the Congress government in Karnataka. Bengaluru is most dynamic and fastest growing city in the world. But Modi comes to the city and dubs it as a land of criminals. Someone has mislead him. Uttar Pradesh accounts for 9.5 per cent of all crimes in the country, and is ruled by BJP's Yogi Adityanath. BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh accounts or 8.9 per cent of crimes. But Karnataka does not figure in top ten states. This is a fine example of how a PM can tell lies about a state for political gains. It is an insult to Karnataka,” said Parameshwara, adding that Modi might have been mislead by his own people.
“Eshwarappa and Ananthkumar are clueless about the number of deaths due to communal reasons. Our home minister says that out of the 23 murders of Hindu activists, only nine are communal cases. And culprits in most cases have been apprehended. How can you label the state as lawsless?,” asked Parameshwara.
The KPCC chief took Modi to task for not mentioning the Mahadayi issue even once during his one-hour-long speech, even as the agitators are on protest demanding PM's intervention.
“We expected him to give directions to resolve the Mahadayi issue. But he stuck to political rhetoric and irresponsible statements about a democratically elected government and chief minister,” he said.
“If the BJP is dreaming of coming to power by misleading the people of Karnataka they are mistaken. We have fulfilled all our assurances made to our people,” Parameshwara added.
“How can he dub the Congress government as anti-farmer, when the Centre has not waived off farm loans, and we have done it. It is not four crore homes in darkness, but the 126 crore homes the Congress electrified should have been highlighted. If only Congress had ruined the country, as the BJP claims today, could Modi have ever spoken high of India at Madison garden, or invited the investors, praised the education system? Congress laid the foundation for the country's progress which you should not forget. Congress will come to power in Karnataka again,” he asserted.