Campaigning for the May 10 Assembly elections in Karnataka intensified on Wednesday with national leaders holding meetings across the state.
While the Congress is banking on an anti-incumbency wave that has worked since 1985, the ruling BJP hopes Prime Minister Narendra Modi's massive campaigning from April 29 will see it cross the halfway mark in the 224-member Assembly.
The BJP focused on slamming the “appeasement politics” of the Congress and defended the new reservation policy that was announced by the Bommai government (but kept it on hold following a court order) to win the votes of the dominant Lingayat and Vokkaliga communities and the STs and OBCs. The saffron party seems to have given up on getting the votes of the minority community.
However, the BJP dealt with Jagadish Shettar with kid’s gloves, not wanting to be too harsh on him and thus upset the Lingayat community. Shettar had switched over to the Congress from the BJP recently after he was denied a ticket.
The Congress, on the other hand, tried to delink Modi from the Karnataka elections, saying that the issues are of Karnataka and not Modi. The party also took on the BJP over corruption.
BJP star campaigner Uttar Pradesh Yogi Adityanath, who drew large crowds with his fiery speech slamming the Congress, started his campaign in Mandya.
'No space for reservations based on a religion'
“In this country, there is no space for reservations based on a religion, which is why the Karnataka government announced the new reservation policy. The BJP does not know to do appeasement politics but clearly knows about the empowerment. The Congress is expert in doing appeasement politics as they are supporting the banner outfits like PFI in Karnataka,” he said.
“(The) Congress talks about development but the reality (is) that the five-year schemes which they used to announce used to become a reality only after the scheme's term ended… and soon after it would collapse,” he said.
'Our government will investigate all corrupt leaders'
In Dharwad, Union minister Rajnath Singh said corruption is being targeted across India and prominent leaders are being imprisoned. “The opposition alleges that the investigation is biased, but our government will investigate all corrupt leaders regardless of their status,” he said.
He said the Congress introduced 4 per cent reservation on religious lines in Karnataka only to appease Muslims. “We will welcome it if an economically-weaker Muslim or a Christian gets reservation benefits but the Constitution does not permit religion-based reservation," he said.
Union Minister Smriti Irani mildly took on former CM Jagadish Shettar in Dharwad saying "a few days ago one of our men (Jagadish Shettar) backstabbed us and went to the other camp (Congress). The public knows everything. I want to tell the people of Hubli-Dharwad that those who cannot be of their religion, family or ideology, can never be of the public."
Shettar attacks Shah
In a counter attack, Shettar, addressed Home Minister Amit Shah's remarks against him. “He is the Home Minister. He must have taken a report on this constituency and Karnataka politics. Day by day, the party is going down. With that apprehension, he started attacking Jagadish Shettar,” he said.
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi keeps asking what has the Congress done in 70 years. We have built dams, public sector undertakings. We have provided education, healthcare and employment opportunities for all. When the country got independence, literacy level was around 16%. Now, it is around 70%,” said Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge in his rally in Chikkodi, north Karnataka.
“Modi speaks like this because he is vengeful. He has been creating trouble for Rahul Gandhi and his family endlessly. The BJP disqualified Rahul Gandhi within 24 hours of a court judgement against him. But the same BJP has not disqualified Narayan Bhai Kachadia, a BJP MP from Gujarat who has been convicted for 3-1/2 years for atrocities on a Dalit doctor,” Kharge said.
Priyanka Gandhi, who campaigned in the Old Mysore region, reiterated that the election is about throwing out a corrupt government in the state.
Senior BJP leader CT Ravi said “there are many patriots among Muslims who vote for BJP. But some of them who support Pakistan and have a divisive ideology vote for Congress and Janata Dal. We don't want the votes of those who have a Pakistani mindset.”
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