BENGALURU: With the political temperature rising in Karnataka for the May 10 assembly polls, the BJP has sharpened its attack on the Congress with Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai stating that the opposition party has shown special love for Lingayat community after the elections were announced and pursued “divide and rule policy”. BJP president JP Nadda, who was in Karnataka, also attacked the Congress and accused its leader and former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah of being “patron” of PFI.
“Former CM Siddaramaiah from Congress party withdrew cases against PFI, released 1,700 PFI activists from jail…Siddaramaiah is their patron…,” Nadda said in Hubballi. The Centre banned the Popular Front of India (PFI) in September last year. The Congress on Tuesday announced its candidate against Chief Minister Bommai from Shiggaon. The party has fielded Mohammed Yousuf Savanur from the seat. The party announced seven candidates on Tuesday and fielded former Karnataka Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar from Hubli-Dharwad-Central.
Jagadish Shettar’s resignation from BJP and his joining Congress on Monday has made Hubballi-Dharwad Central a key battle in the assembly polls. Shettar, a six-time MLA, represented the seat in the outgoing assembly and was keen to be given a ticket from the constituency. He is the second senior leader from the Lingayat community to leave the ruling BJP and join Congress in less than a week. Former Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister Laxman Savadi had joined the Congress on Friday.
Basavaraj Bommai said voters from the Lingayat community “are vigilant and “have taken right decision when required”. “Lingayat voters in Karnataka are vigilant and they have always taken the right decision when required. Congress Party has shown special love for them (Lingayat) after the Assembly elections were announced but it`s the same party which tried to divide the Lingayats and Veerashaivas. The people have not forgotten the divide-and-rule policy of the Congress party,” Bommai told reporters.
“All those leaders who joined Congress during the election would not make any impact on the BJP`s prospects. This time, the BJP will win more seats than in the 2018 Assembly polls,” he added. Nadda, who also interacted with intellectuals in Dharwad, slammed the Congress saying that the party that “divided the country for seven decades is now itself divided.”
He said that in the 70 years of Congress rule, there was only division. “In Tamil Nadu, 60 years back, they (Congress) were uprooted, till then they haven’t returned in the State. In Kerala, they used to rule, but now they have shrunk from there too. In Karnataka, the fight is going on,” Nadda said.
“You (Congress) were (in government) in Andhra Pradesh, in Telangana, you ruled both the States and now you have been wiped out from both the States,” he added. He also spoke of the country`s development and foreign policy under the Modi government and referred to the de-hyphenation of India and Pakistan. “Whenever any country spoke of India, it used to say `India-Pakistan` together. Today, none of the countries mentions Pakistan, when it speaks of India. It`s because India moved ahead and Pakistan remained where it was,” he said.
BJP`s chief is on a two-day visit to the southern state. Union Home Minister Amit Shah will embark on a visit to Karnataka from April 21. He will be in Davanagere on April 21 and in Devanahalli on April 22. Shah is expected to attend Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) organisational meetings in the run-up to the polls. Sources said Shah will meet the top BJP leaders in the state and hold a core group meeting. Shah will also chair a meeting of the Election Campaign Committee and give his inputs to the team. He is also likely to chair a meeting of the Election Management Committee. Meanwhile, former Congress MP B V Nayak has quit the party, after being denied a ticket to Devadurga constituency. Ticket has been given to his brother`s wife.