Vijayapura (Karnataka), May 8 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi squared off in Karnataka on Tuesday attacking each other with Modi accusing her and her son Rahul of destroying Congress to save the “dynasty” while she said “only speeches do not fill empty stomachs”.
The two leaders took on each other when they addressed election rallies in this district within hours, raising political temperatures in what is perceived as a close fight.
It was Sonia Gandhi’s first election rally in about two years and only one in Karnataka and her presence underscored the significance the party attaches to the electoral verdict in the May 12 election.
The face-off came in the district associated with Lord Basaveshwara, a 12th century social reformer and philosopher who founded the Lingayat religious order. Both the parties are making hard efforts to woo the numerically-significant community.
Modi, who addressed a rally in the afternoon, made a sharp attack at Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi saying that the party was being destroyed to save a dynasty.
“One thing is clear that the dynasty furthering which the Congress destroyed the nation, today to save that dynasty, Congress party is getting destroyed”, he said.
Sonia Gandhi, who addressed a rally in the evening, accused Modi of making wrong statements and using freedom fighters like pawns of chess for his political interests.
She said Modi may be a good speaker but speeches alone cannot solve problems of the people.
Modi targeted the ruling Siddaramaiah government, saying there was not even a single minister “who has not faced allegations of corruption.”
Referring to the Congress government’s move to grant minority community status to Lingayat community, Modi accused it of trying to gain votes by seeking to divide communities.
“Bhagwan Basaveshwara conveyed that everyone should be taken along. This Congress government is dividing communities, castes, voters… divide and rule, pit one against the other. They want to save their chair. But Congress leaders do not know this is the land of Bhagwan Basaveshwara. It is not going to be divided into communities and will not accept division among brothers. They will remove the Congress but will not allow poison of casteism,” Modi said.
He claimed the Congress was spreading lies on the issue of women’s security and said that a daughter is a daughter irrespective of the community she belongs to.
The Prime Minister also accused the Congress of not supporting the triple talaq bill in the Rajya Sabha.
Referring to Rahul Gandhi, he said Congress was in such a position that their leaders did not have faith in their ‘naamdar’ (dynast) leader.
Modi said he had on Monday watched an interview of a Congress leader who said that the son (Congress President Rahul Gandhi) “will not be able to do anything”.
“If you bring the mother (Sonia) to Karnataka and she does something, then maybe the deposits can be saved. This is what Congress leaders have started speaking,” he said.
Sonia Gandhi said that Modi speaks “wrong wherever he goes.”
“He takes liberty with history, uses our freedom fighters like pawns of chess for his political interests. Does it behove a prime minister. Have you seen a prime minister earlier who resorts to empty talk but stays quiet on real issues, does not speak a word on the”.”
She accused Modi government of not fulfilling its promises.” “Which promise has been fulfilled. What has Modiji done for the farmers, what has he done for employment to youth, what did he do for the middle class. Modiji what did you do for security of women, children, backward classes, dalits and minoritie”,” she asked.
She accused him of being intolerant and discriminating against Karnataka.
She said Modi was proud of his oratory skills and she agrees that he was”a “big orator and gives speeches like an act”r.””
“If his oratory can fill hungry stomachs, he must speak more often. Speeches cannot fill the stomach of the hungry. Speeches cannot empower women, cure those suffering from diseases, it cannot create employment. For all this you need strong commitment, determination and good intention,” she said.
“Modiji is besotted with Congress-free India. Leave Congress-free India, he cannot even tolerate anyone in front of him,” she added.
Lauding the Siddaramaiah government for its initiatives concerning the poor and the farmers including farm loan waiver, she urged people to defeat the BJP over its “jumlas”.
She said that ending corruption was among tall promises of Modi but he had failed to appoint a Lokpal.
Gandhi also targeted Modi over allegations concerning Reddy brothers and about spurt in turnover of a company linked to BJP chief Amit Shah’s son Jay Shah.
“What is his model of ending corruption. Wherever he addresses rallies in Karnataka, there are people around him. Will you adopt their model or you will adopt model of your closest associate,” she said.
She said Chief Minister Siddaramaiah had sought time to meet Modi concerning farmers but an appointment was not given and people of the state were insulted.
Modi, who addressed another rally at Koppal, took a dig at Rahul Gandhi saying one who is born with a golden spoon would never understand the difficulties of the poor and the importance of Swachh Bharat campaign.
Modi said the BJP believes in “Rashtra Bhakti” and serving the society unlik” the Congress “whose only concern”is one family.”