As BSY, Siddaramaiah war it out on Twitter, Narendra Modi says Congress' countdown in Karnataka has begun

Nivedita N | Feb 4, 2018 | 4 min read


Drought hit farmers at/in Parivartan Yatra pins hope on Modi; PM mince no word on Mahadayi water row

By Nivedita Niranjan Kumar and Ayswarya Murthy

Congress’ countdown has begun in Karnataka, and they are standing at the exit door, PM Narendra Modi said at Palace Grounds in Bengaluru on Sunday.  “Jahan pura desh pragati ki taraf badh raha hai, Karnataka mein ulti ganga beh rahi hai,” he said.

His appeal to voters to choose BJP was not missed. The message was clear: While the rest of the country is moving towards development, the tide is flowing in the opposite direction in Karnataka.

In a speech that was largely focussed on rural development, the PM listed out schemes for farmers, healthcare and SMEs – some of the big ticket announcements from the Union Budget – emphasizing that these will help raise the standard of living of rural India and stem migration into cities. Modi did not forget to make a reference to the allocation of Rs 17,000-crore for development of Bengaluru’s 160km suburban rail network.

While the BJP-led Centre has been often criticised by opposition parties for its inability to create jobs in the country, the latest Union Budget gave them an opportunity here to save face. “We have youngsters from across the country come here and start their own businesses. Today’s youngsters are not job-seekers but job generators. To ease their woes, we have made the loan sanctioning process easier,” he said.

The pakoda controversy found its way outside the venue where a group of students dressed in graduation robes sold the snack. The PM had in an interview asked, "If a person selling pakodas earns Rs 200 at the end of the day, will it be considered employment or not?"

The street vendors of Bangalore, under AICCTU-affiliated Bengaluru Jilla Beedhi Vyaapaari Sanghatanegala Okkuta, too came out in the open with an open letter to Modi on Sunday. Starting off with a mention of the Pakodas, they criticised the approval of 100% FDI in single brand retail, GST, Smart Cities Mission, demonetisation, etc. "Sir, we do not want a ‘Smart City’, we do not want a ‘Digital India’, we do not want ‘Make in India’ or your ‘Swacch Bharath’, if it doesn’t allow municipal workers, construction workers, slum dwellers, and street vendors to live with dignity. We want public education, public health system, and public housing! You are shirking your responsibility to provide us all of this and are instead privatizing our entitlements."

Meanwhile, a Twitter war erupted between CM Siddaramaiah and BJP state chief Yeddyurappa over the former’s focus on the development achieved in the state veiled as an invitation to the Prime Minister. The CM had also appealed to the PM to find a solution to the Mahadayi river water row, of which BJP-ruled Goa is a party. However, the issue did not find a mention in Modi’s speech.

Vatal Nagaraj, the pro-Kannada activist who had called for a Bengaluru bandh on Sunday to “seek justice” for North Karnataka farmers on the Mahadayi row, was detained by cops later in the evening. The Karnataka high court had on Friday termed the call for bandh illegal.

Endorsing BSY as the chief ministerial candidate, Modi said the “Kisan ka beta” will work for farmers if he is elected.

Many farmers had come to the venue from districts like Chitradurga, Bidar and Belgaum hoping that Modi would refer to the water problems their districts faced. “We have lost hope on Congress. We do not have any water for our crops, and that means we can’t feed our children as we have no money. How can we still hope that Congress will do anything?” said Samarappa L, from Belgaum.

A similar view was held by other farmers who said they were living in drought-stricken districts without any government help. “We have to keep trying. If Congress failed, maybe BJP will help us,” said Kiran Patil from Belgaum said.

Gurudas Ram, from Chitradurga, said, “They (Congress) come to our homes and ask us what is our problem. We ask them to bring water to the district, but do they really do so? No. If we have no water, how will farmers survive? I cannot bring Congress to power again.”

Cong reaction

Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president G Parameshwara reiterated that the Mahadayi issue was ignored by the PM in his speech and said the PM was misguiding people, and “they are only dreaming that they would come be to power.”

Karnataka will not be Congress mukth, we will come to power again, he declared .

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