Prime Minister Narendra Modi waves to supporters during a roadshow ahead of Karnataka Assembly elections in Bengaluru on Saturday (ANI)

With some pre-poll surveys giving edge to the Congress party in the elections to be held on May 10, the BJP’s campaign turns aggressive. What are the two parties promising to the voters of “gateway to the south”?

Our Bureau
Bengaluru/New Delhi

A pre-poll survey conducted by the Kannada outlet Eedina says that Congress appears to be headed for a clear and comfortable majority, much beyond the 113-seat mark, in the forthcoming Karnataka assembly elections. The assembly elections will be held in a single phase on May 10. Counting will be done on May 13.

The survey predicted that Congress will win 132-140 seats with a vote share of 43%. And, this could be Congress’s best performance in the last three decades, it added. BJP is predicted to win 57-65 seats, with a vote share of 33%. For comparison, BJP won 104 seats in the 2018 assembly elections.

While other surveys have predicted different results, this one has given a boost to the Congress party leaders and cadres in the state.  On Thursday, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi reached an ice cream parlor in Mangalore late night along with party general secretary KC Venugopal and Karnataka Congress chief DK Shivakumar.

As Gandhi reached a lot many people thronged at the Pabbas parlor to get a glimpse of him. Rahul interacted with locals and after spending some time at the parlor he left. Currently, Rahul Gandhi is in Karnataka and doing campaigns for the assembly elections. On Thursday, in a major poll promise while addressing a rally in Mangalore, Rahul announced that as soon as the Congress party comes to power in the state, the women will be provided free bus services. “We had already made four promises. Now, I am adding one more promise to it. Once our government is formed, from the very first day, the women will get free bus services,” said Rahul.

He also attacked the Bharatiya Janata Party for “stealing” people’s mandate and took a jibe at the party with “40 per cent” corruption allegations. “While it was BJP’s job to take away 40 per cent money from the women of Karnataka, our job is to give back the state’s money to the women,” he said.

“The BJP government was not formed with your votes. BJP has stolen the mandate by purchasing MLAs with corruption money. They have destroyed the Constitution. They (BJP) steal everything, starting from the sugar mills to MLA. BJP is asking for power for giving a golden future to people. But they are themselves in power for three years, what have they done?” he added.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi eats a meal with party General Secretary in-charge (Organization) KC Venugopal and Karnataka party chief DK Shivakumar in Mangaluru on Thursday (ANI)

The former MP added, “Do you want the 40 per cent government in the state, where the party leaders themselves talk about purchasing MLAs? The Karnataka Association also wrote to the Prime Minister, but he didn’t even receive their letter because there were accusations of a 40 per cent commission. A BJP MLA’s son was also caught red-handed with money”.

“On one side there is scam after scam, and on the other side, there is inflation. Petrol costs Rs 90, gas costs Rs 1100. They ruined small businesses with GST. Today, the youth don’t have employment. 90 lakh small companies got closed under BJP rule. 1.6 lakh crore people lost their jobs. This is BJP’s development,” he said.

The former Congress president further alleged that he was disqualified from the parliament because he “asked questions on corruption”.

“When I asked questions on corruption issues, I was disqualified from the Parliament. I had asked a question from the Prime Minister; I had asked about the relationship between PM Modi and Adani. I had asked whose money is invested in the shell companies outside India,” Rahul Gandhi added.

But taking on Congress in poll- bound Karnataka, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said that the grand old party lacks capability to understand poverty and is “full of negativity”, while also accusing it of doing politics on development.

The Prime Minister accused Congress and Janata Dal (Secular), which are contesting the Karnataka Assembly elections separately, of harboring “hatred” for farmers and said that they created obstructions in the implementation of the central scheme for farmers. Karnataka will go to Assembly polls on May 10 and the counting of votes will take place on May 13.

“Congress will never understand the struggle and pain of the poor. Congress slowed the pace of houses here. They have not seen poverty. Congress is the party which does politics in the name of development and is full of negativity. Congress had only made fake promises to the farmers and people of Karnataka,” PM Modi said while addressing an election rally here.

“When we started this scheme (Kisan Samman Nidhi), there was a Congress-JDS government here. But they created obstructions in sending the list of the beneficiary farmers. Can you imagine how much hatred Congress-JDS have for the farmers? The state government did not have to spend any money. We were sending money from Delhi. The problem they had was that the money was going directly into the bank accounts of the farmers,” he added.

The Prime Minister also stated that Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh where Congress is in power and had promised loan waivers for farmers but the still the farmers are waiting for the fulfilment of the promises.

PM Modi further noted that the upcoming Karnataka polls will decide the role of the state in India’s journey to becoming a developed nation. “This election is to make Karnataka the number one state in the country. This election is to decide the role of Karnataka in the making of a developed India. India will be developed when every corner of Karnataka will be developed,” he said.

“Foreign investment has increased thrice in the state under the BJP regime compared to the Congress regime. The meaning of double-engine government is a double benefit, double speed. When there was no double-engine government in Karnataka, it used to take years to complete small projects,” he added.

The campaign of Bharatiya Janata Party for the battle of Karnataka has turned into an aggressive mode with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s mega roadshow in Bengaluru and back-to-back three public rallies.

Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra along with party leaders waves to supporters during a public rally ahead in Navalgund on Saturday (ANI)

The Prime Minister has entered the campaign in the last leg of the campaigning in which he will conduct a spate of roadshows and rallies in an effort for the BJP to retain power in its “gateway to the South”.

On the lines of Gujarat’s Ahmedabad, the party has also decided to organize a mega roadshow of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the Karnataka Legislative Assembly aiming to ensure victories of the party candidates.

Training guns on the Congress over its President Mallikarjun Kharge’s ‘venomous snake’ barb at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Friday said the party and its leaders have lost their minds. “PM Modi is welcomed across the world with a lot of respect, he said the Congress cannot instigate people with such statements, because the support for the Prime Minister will increase, as much as they abuse him,” Shah said.

“One hand, there is the Congress under the leadership of Rahul Gandhi and on the other, is the BJP under the leadership of Prime Minister Modi. This (Karnataka Assembly) election is an opportunity for you to decide if you want a double engine sarkar led by PM Modi, which will take Karnataka forward, or the Congress’s reverse gear sarkar, which will take Karnataka backwards,” he added.

Lashing out at the Congress in poll-bound Karnataka on Friday, Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Friday said the former would put the state into “reverse gear”, depriving it of the benefits of “double-engine sarkar”.

“Each vote counts. So, ensure that it goes to the right leadership. When you cast a vote in favor of lotus (the BJP’s symbol), you will not vote to elect an MLA or a minister or Chief Minister. Your vote will further strengthen PM Modi’s hands in creating a ‘Mahan Karnataka’. Your vote will protect Karnataka from the PFI.” With both the parties making big promises and throwing allegations at each other, the Karnataka voters may have some difficulty in making their minds. But it all be clear on May 10 when they head to polling booths. 

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