Starting his Karnataka campaign, PM Modi focuses on Kharge jibe: ‘Cong has abused me 91 times’
On his first campaign visit after the BJP declared candidates for the Karnataka Assembly polls, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Saturday focused his speeches on the “poisonous snake” reference to him by Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge, saying he considered it an “honour” to be insulted by the Congress since it has in the past similarly “abused” people like B R Ambedkar and V D Savarkar.
“In this election, the Congress has again started abusing me. Someone has made a list and given it to me. The Congress has abused me 91 times till now in different ways,” Modi said, adding that had the party put the time it had “wasted on the dictionary of abuses”, on governance and its workers, “it would not be in a position it is”.
Modi drew on not just Kharge’s remarks, but also Rahul Gandhi’s 2019 speech saying “why do all thieves have the Modi surname”, and former Congress CM Siddaramaiah’s suggestion that the state had a “corrupt” Lingayat CM, to say the Congress had insulted “all OBCs” as well as Lingayats.
“It is the tradition of the Congress to humiliate those who work for the poor and those who work for the country. I am not the only one who has been insulted… In the previous election, they ran the campaign of ‘Chowkidar Chor Hai’ and then they went ahead and said ‘Modi Chor’ and then said the entire OBC community are ‘chors’ and now that elections have begun in Karnataka, they have called my Lingayat brethren chor,” he said at his first rally, at Humnabad in Bidar region, a key centre for the Lingayats in Karnataka, who have traditionally supported the BJP.
“The Congress should open its ears and listen: whenever it has used abuse, the people have given such a strong response that it has not been able to rise again. In Karnataka as well, the response to this abuse and insult to their dignity will be delivered via votes,” the PM said.
He added that it were not just “small leaders” of the Congress but the top brass who always insult him. “But then I think that the Congress is such a party that it did not spare the architect of the Constitution, Babasaheb Ambedkar. The Congress called him a rakshasa and many other things,” Modi claimed, adding that the insults against Savarkar continue till this day.
“The greatest of the great have been the subject of Congress insults. When I see all this, I feel blessed that the Congress considers me worthy enough to be rewarded with its abuses. They have abused Dr Ambedkar, Veer Savarkar and are showering the same abuses on Modi,” he said.
Modi added that he was not affected by such abuse. “I will work even harder when they abuse me. All the abuses will be reduced to dust with your blessings. The Congress should note that the more dirt it stirs, the more the Lotus will bloom in the state.”
Stressing that the Congress and JD(S) were “the same”, and that the JD(S) was “only interested in power”, Modi said both parties were anti-farmer and that their 2018-19 coalition government had not provided a beneficiary list for the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi scheme. Claiming that the head of that coalition government (JD-S leader H D Kumaraswamy) had said they were working at “the mercy of the Congress”, Modi urged voters to support the BJP to ensure a full majority for the party.
The PM promised the people the benefits of a “double-engine government”, with the BJP at the Centre and in the state”, to fulfil their dreams of rapid development. Telling the people to see him as their “son in Delhi”, he spoke of “growth in FDI”, use of ethanol from sugarcane farmers for blending with petrol, the prominence given to millets like jowar, which is produced in Bidar, as examples of BJP achievements.
“In creating toilets, providing gas connections, ensuring quality healthcare, the biggest problems faced by women have been addressed, which was not done by the Congress for decades,” Modi said, accusing the Congress of instead dividing society “in the name of caste and community”, and for doing “appeasement politics”.
“The Congress also neglected Bidari artisans. We have honored Shah Rashid Qadri (a Bidari artist) with the Padma award,” Modi said.
Speaking at the Bidar rally earlier, CM Basavaraj Bommai also brought up Kharge’s remark, and said Modi was like “the snake in God Shiva’s crown”, “which drinks up all the poison of the Earth and brings out nectar”.
“There is no equivalent to Narendra Modi in the Congress. The Congress has not done even one-third of the work that has been done by Narendra Modi,” he said.