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With three more days of electioneering left before Karnataka votes for a new legislative assembly, the poll campaign in the southern state has heated up. Top leaders of the BJP and the Congress are holding back to back rallies, aggressively attacking each other.

In fact, the hallmark of the election campaign is dependence of both major parties on the ‘push’ factor rather than ‘pull’ factor, as they slug it out with allegations and counter-allegations. Another feature this time is that the Congress has matched the BJP, giving sharp replies rather than being defensive.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi has advised Prime Minister Modi to “copy” and implement at the Centre the Karnataka government’s plan for the welfare of Dalits and Adivasis. Modi, for his part, reminded voters that United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and party chief Rahul Gandhi were out on bail in connection with a Rs 50-billion (Rs 5,000-crore) scam.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who addressed four rallies on Sunday and whose campaign schedule has been expanded to include 21 rallies, attacked the Congress for being against new technologies promoted by his government during his interaction with Karnataka BJP Yuva Morcha workers through the Namo app.

Accusing the Congress for opposing technology be it in the form of Aadhaar card or EVMs and said the BJP wants to promote a modern India by giving importance to skill development and innovation. Modi also lauded efforts of party workers in maintaining the public mood in favour of the party despite rumours of a hung assembly in the May 12 elections in Karnataka.

“At 45 degree temperature heat, I have seen the enthusiasm of people…it is rare to witness such level of enthusiasm…I can see that in Karnataka, people themselves are fighting the elections,” he said.

He said that despite disappointing news being spread that there will be a hung assembly, Karnataka BJP workers have played a key role in maintaining the atmosphere of enthusiasm in favour of the party, Modi said.

Lauding BJP youth morcha workers for their contribution, the senior BJP leader said, “Youth power is at the forefront whether it is on line, off line or mass contact. Youth are the biggest asset of BJP.”

“On one hand, there are parties that have lagged behind in technology, either they cannot understand or are purposely spreading lies. They have opposed all subjects in technology– EVM, Aadhaar card, mobile phone, everywhere. On the other hand for a modern India, in every field of life we want to give importance to technology, be it skill development or innovation.”

“This the era of artificial intelligence and India cannot lag behind,” Modi said as he appreciated yuva morcha workers for increasing the importance of technology within the organisation. Modi earlier addressed party’s office bearers, members of the women’s wing and Kisan morcha workers via the ‘Narendra Modi’ app.

In a rally on Sunday, Modi accused the Congress of having an anti-Dalit and anti-OBC mindset, and blamed the party for stalling of Parliament.

He also reminded voters that United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and party chief Rahul Gandhi were out on bail in connection with a Rs 50-billion (Rs 5,000-crore) scam.

Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, meanwhile, challenged BJP’s CM face Yeddyurappa, as well as Modi, for an open debate while accusing the PM of spreading lies.

In a series of tweets, Congress leader and Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah attacked the BJP and Modi on issues ranging from unfulfilled promises to communal violence. Twice in his tweet, he emphasised that his contest was with BJP’s CM face Yeddyurappa and not the prime minister.

In a newspaper ad in Bengaluru dailies, the Congress leader has challenged PM Modi and BJP’s chief ministerial candidate Yeddyurappa for an open debate, accusing them of making false accusations and allegations on the party ruling the state.

Asserting that “we have delivered as promised” the Karnataka Congress has asked in the advertisement, “Stop making false accusations, allegations. Why not debate with facts and let the people of Karnataka decide who is truthful.”

“In the interest of 6.5 crore Kannadiga’s future, let us have an open debate about our plans for Karnataka before the people of the state. I am open to come to any place on the date and time suggested by you both,” said Siddaramaiah in the newspaper ad. The ad also carries a signature of the Karnataka Chief Minister.

Posting the ad on Twitter, Siddaramaiah said, “PM Modi is deliberately confusing Karnataka voters with his bombastic speeches on non-issues. All hot air & no substance. My contest is not with him. It is with Yaddyurappa. I challenge him to an open debate on issues on a single platform. Will he accept? Modi is also welcome!”

When the Prime Minister speaks, he should do so with evidence, Karnataka Chief Minister, Siddaramaiah said. He was referring to the various barbs made by PM, Narendra Modi during his election rallies in poll-bound Karnataka which votes on May 12.

The chief minister said it was expected that Modi would speak about the BJP-led central government’s achievements and criticise the Congress government in Karnataka.

Maintaining that he neither made personal comments nor used unparliamentary words, Siddaramiah said, “When he (Modi) spoke in an uncivilised manner, initially I thought I would not react. But I was forced to attack him because otherwise, the people would have perceived it as the truth.”

At all his election rallies in poll-bound Karnataka, Modi has made a scathing attack on the Siddaramaiah regime, saying it was a “gold medallist” in corruption and calling it a “seedha rupaiah government” (corrupt), a punning allusion to the chief minister’s name.

Referring to Modi calling his dispensation a “10 percent government,” Siddaramaiah wanted to know if the prime minister had any evidence to back his charge. “He has all the central agencies. If he has any evidence, he should make it public…Modi is demonstrating his triviality by making personal attacks,” he said.

Accusing Modi of not honouring any of his promises in the last four years, Siddaramaiah said, “He has totally failed. He is lying to hide his failure.”

Modi was deliberately misleading the people and lying to hide his failures in the last four years, he said, adding that the people would not buy it. Attacking the prime minister over his “sabka sath, sabka vikas” slogan, Siddaramaiah pointed out that the BJP had not fielded a single Christian or Muslim candidate in the Karnataka polls.

The prime minister was using a language that did not befit the office he held, the Congress leader said, taking exception to Modi calling his dispensation a “10 percent government” and “seedha rupaiah sarkar” while attacking him over alleged corruption.

Siddaramaiah also mocked the Karnataka BJP, saying it solely depended on the prime minister as regards the May 12 state Assembly polls as it had no leader with a “face value”. “We expected a dignified language from him (Modi). But what he spoke was the BJP’s language and not the one of a civilised person. He spoke at a very low level…this is not the language of the prime minister,” he told reporters.

Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Manmohan Singh on Monday accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government of mismanaging the economy, stepping up attacks on their principal rival ahead of Karnataka elections on May 12.

Former prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh on Monday hit out at the Narendra Modi government ahead of the Karnataka Assembly Elections 2018. Addressing the media in Karnataka, he said that the farmer issues, job crisis and economic slowdown were situations that were well avoidable. He also targeted the Modi government over rising petrol and diesel prices, saying that they were not passing on the benefit of low international prices to the consumer.

“Our farmers are facing an acute crisis, our aspirational youth are not finding opportunities, and the economy is growing below its potential. The unfortunate truth is that each of these crises was entirely avoidable,” Dr Singh said. He added that every time the Congress sought an answer for any of the disastrous policies of the present BJP government, they always got the same response that the “intentions were virtuous”.

Questioning the government’s decisions, he said, “The intentions of the Modi government have resulted in massive losses for our country.”

Slamming the Modi government for economic mismanagement, Dr Singh said, “Today neither are banks lending nor is the private sector borrowing in order to make new investments. The growth engines of the economy are spluttering. Perhaps it is here that the mismanagement of the Modi Government is most evident.”

“The economic mismanagement of Modi Government, I say this with great care and responsibility, is slowly eroding the trust of the general public in the banking sector. Instead of taking prompt corrective action, Govt has been busy providing excuses & peddling conspiracy theories,” Dr Singh added.

Earlier this morning, while addressing the Karnataka BJP Yuva Morcha Karyakartas, PM Modi said that unemployment and joblessness were a legacy of Congress. “They did nothing to reduce unemployment,” Modi said.

However, responding to PM Modi’s charge, Dr Singh said, “Shri Modi forgets to mention that policies of UPA I & II led to lifting 140 million people above the poverty line during 2004-2014.”

Calling GST and demonetisation two of the biggest blunders by the Modi government, Singh said, “It does not help that the Ministers in PM Modi ji’s cabinet and even BJP Chief Ministers regularly make comments promoting irrationality. It thus comes as no surprise when irrational policies hurting people are implemented.”

He accused the Modi government of reversing the UPA government’s successes in four years. “In only four years, you [Modi] reversed the successes of the UPA government,” he said.

Mocking at BJP leaders, he accused them of peddling conspiracy theories: “Instead of taking prompt corrective actions, they [BJP leaders] are peddling conspiracy theories as to what led to these problems.”

Speaking about the government’s economic policies, he said the write offs of corporate houses have increased under PM Modi. “Banking frauds have increased to Rs 1.1 crore. Our country is experiencing difficult times and the economy is performing below its potential,” he said.

Singh also raked up the Modi government’s decision on demonetization and introduction of the Goods and Services Tax (GST).

“Two major avoidable blunders of the Modi government have been demonetisation and hasty implementation of GST. They dealt a blow to the rural economy and to the common man,” Singh said.

Referring to the hike in fuel prices that have hit common people, he said, “High petrol prices have made the situation worse and mismanagement of the Modi government is evident.”

Rahul Gandhi, in a tweet late on Sunday night, accused PM Modi of taking false credit for work done by the Congress party.

He tweeted, “The Karnataka Govt’s revolutionary SC/ST sub plan, allocates 24% of all resources to Dalits & Adivasis as per their % of population. Since PM Modi is skilled at repackaging & claiming credit for Congress schemes, this is a good one for him to copy centrally.”

On Sunday, the Congress president had targeted the BJP and the RSS, saying their “fascist ideology’ is that members of Dalit and tribal community “must continue to exist at the bottom rung of society”.

Gandhi said on Twitter he will protest in Kolar, southern Karnataka, against the government’s fuel price policy. “Despite international crude prices dropping upto [sic] 67% in 4 years of Modi government petrol-diesel prices are skyrocketing in India but the government that promised ‘acche din’ is silent. BJP is cruel. They loot in the name of fuel,” he said in a video that listed BJP leaders statements on fuel prices when they were in the Opposition .

He shared a video compilation, showing footage of BJP’s Karnataka chief ministerial candidate BS Yeddyurappa and Union minister Anant Kumar Hegde. While one clip was of a news report on Yeddyurappa ordering outside food at a Dalit’s home, the other was that of Hegde saying that “we are here to change the Constitution”.

The video also highlighted a recent incident of Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe candidates for the post of constable in Madhya Pradesh labelled on their chest with their caste. It also carries a footage of the Una flogging incident, where Dalit youth were tied to a vehicle without their shirts and beaten up.

It also made reference to remarks by RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat calling for review of the reservation system for the SCs and the STs. Apart from this, the latest incident of Uttar Pradesh minister Suresh Rana ordering hotel food at a Dalit’s residence during government’s Dalit outreach programme.

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