Bangalore: Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, the BJP's frontrunner for the PM post, on Sunday left no stone unturned in wooing the voters in Bangalore and riling the opposition Congress with his remarks. Modi, in his trademark flamboyant oratory, asked Congress why it had failed to declare its CM candidate for the state so far.
"All BJP leaders are asking Congress to announce their CM candidate in Karnataka. A 'hand' without a face does not give a clear picture of the person," Modi said, in a clear reference to the Congress's party symbol, the hand.
The audience, mostly comprising BJP workers, applauded him with loud cheers, shout-outs and clapping as he progressed to launch direct attacks on Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her son, vice-president Rahul.
"Mother says in Jaipur (referring to the Congress's Chintan Shivir) that power is poisonous. The son doesn't listen to her and asks for power in Karnataka (referring to Rahul's recent visit)," Modi said, going on to add that the "one born with the golden spoon had promised in Jaipur that Congress will not give party tickets to criminals, that Congress will not give tickets to those who had lost last elections with more than 15,000 votes. They have gone back on all their promises."
He alleged that Rahul tried to denigrate the image of Karnataka during election campaign and demanded that he apologise to the people of the state. "See the courage they have to talk on corruption", he said, referring to the 2G scam.
Modi said the country has never seen "such a weak" central government, criticising UPA's handling of the Sarabjit Singh episode and Chinese incursions.
Modi exhorted the voters to throw the Congress out, making an example of the poor safety measures for women in Delhi. "Can anyone repeat the mistake of giving Congress a chance in Karnataka? Congress government is in Delhi. Do you feel safe in Delhi? Can you trust the government of Delhi? If they can not properly rule a place like Delhi, how do you expect them to rule a state as big as Karnataka?" he asked.
Modi also lauded the "impressive growth rate" of the state "despite the internal issues in Karnataka BJP".
Modi, however, is unlikely to spend more time in Karnataka for campaigning.
BJP President Rajnath Singh, party stalwart LK Advani and Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj have already campaigned in the state, while Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley played a key role in finalising the party's poll strategy and manifesto-drafting.
At a campaign-kick-off rally in Bangalore earlier in April, state BJP leaders, including party president Prahlad Joshi, Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar and senior party functionary HN Ananth Kumar, insisted Modi had expressed willingness to tour extensively and be at the party's disposal as far as election canvassing was concerned. There has also been a strong demand from sections of BJP candidates to get the Gujarat strongman to campaign in their segments.
According to some party officials, Modi perhaps is reluctant to conduct a full-fledged campaigning in Karnataka, where the BJP is seen to be in not-so-strong-wicket, saddled as it is with anti-incumbency factor and a five-year-rule marked by scams, scandals and intra-party fights.
With additional information from PTI