Santemaranahalli/Udupi/Belagavi: The Congress has initiated the culture of “ease of doing murder”, in Karnataka, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said today, and mounted an all out assault on the party over alleged “loot” of banks and neglect of farmers and youth.

Significantly, launching the second leg of his campaign blitz in poll-bound Karnataka, Modi also appeared to extend an olive branch to the JD(S) by castigating Congress president Rahul Gandhi for “insulting” its patriarch and former prime minister H D Deve Gowda.

Modi, who has powered the BJP to electoral triumphs in many states after assuming office in 2014, addressed three back to back election rallies in the state where most pollsters have predicted a hung Assembly, with the JD(S) playing the role of the kingmaker.

Dexterously playing the Hindutva card, 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 told another election rally in Udupi.

The BJP has been accusing “Jihadi forces” of killing its workers, and the Congress of shielding it.

Speaking about the pioneering work done in the banking sector in Udupi, Modi said despite the nationalisation of banks those poor remained out of the banking system until his government started helming the country.

“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,” he said.

The prime minister began his campaign from Santemaranahalli, where he challenged Gandhi to “to speak in any language” for 15 minutes about the achievements of Karnataka’s Siddaramaiah government without referring to a piece of paper.

“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,” he said.

Modi was responding to Rahul Gandhi’s dare to him to allow 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.

Rally after rally, Modi targeted the state’s Congress government over alleged corruption, and accused it of thwarting the Centre’s efforts to boost infrastructure development.

“Blocking (atkana), keeping things hanging fire, (latkana) and misleading (bhatkana) is their nature,” he said referring to the stalled and delayed development projects.

Addressing an election rally at Chikkodi, Modi said without power the Congress is like a “fish out of water”, and accused it of playing divisive politics, apparently hinting at the Siddaramaiah government’s recommendation for religious minority status for Lingayats, traditional voters of the BJP.

“The Congress is creating a rift between brothers, between north and south, spreading division between high and low, inflicting poison of casteism, and spreading lies,” he said.

The Congress, he said, is a party which has “tinkered” (khilwad) with Constitution the most while “spreading the lie” that the BJP will change the Constitution and do away with reservation.

Modi alleged pressure cookers were recovered during a raid with images of Congress leaders, suggesting that those were meant to bribe voters.

“I don’t understand their game…’kya khichdi paka rahe hain’ (what plot they are hatching)?”he said.

Attacking dynastic politics in the Congress, Modi took a dig at Chief Minister Siddaramaiah for contesting from two seats and fielding his son in another.

Addressing the Santhemarahalli rally, Modi termed it as the Kannada version of Congress’ dynastic 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.

Apparently seeking to keep the door ajar for an alliance with the JD(S) in the event of a fractured mandate, Modi lashed out at Rahul Gandhi for “insulting” Deve Gowda.

Showering praise on the former prime minister at an election rally in Udupi, Modi said Deve Gowda was one of the most respected and tallest leaders for whom he had great respect.

“But I heard the Congress president speak at political rallies 15-20 days ago….the way he referred to respected Deve Gowda ji….is this your culture (sanskar)? This is arrogance,” he said, assailing Gandhi, who recently claimed the JD(S) has a tacit understanding with the BJP and called it the “B Team” of the saffron party.

Modi resumed his campaign in Karnataka after a long break –the last rally he addressed was in February– as he sought to give a big push to the BJP’s efforts to return to power in the state for a second time unseating the Congress.

He is slated to address another 12 rallies over the next few days before Karnataka goes to poll on May 12.