On the campaign trail in Karnataka, Congress president Rahul Gandhi has once again hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for “not uttering a word” on alleged atrocities on Dalits and tribals and “dilution” of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
His remarks at a public meeting on the fifth leg of his tour of poll-bound Karnataka came against the backdrop of violence in northern parts of the country during Monday’s protests against the alleged dilution of the SC/ST Act.
The protests during ‘Bharat Bandh’ against the Supreme Court verdict on the issue claimed at least 11 lives and left hundreds of persons injured.
“Rohit Vemula is murdered. Dalits are beaten up in Una (Gujarat) but the prime minister does not speak a word on it. Atrocities on Dalits and tribals are increasing and the SC/ST Act has been diluted. Modi prefers not to speak a word,” he said.
Rahul compared the status of SC/ST welfare in Karnataka with the Modi government’s actions on the issue.
He claimed that more than half of the money released by the Modi government across the country for SC/ST welfare was being spent by Karnataka itself on the Dalits and tribals.
He also attacked Modi on the CBSE question papers leak and on the “leak” of Assembly election date for Karnataka, saying Modi was silent on these issues too.
Lacing his remarks with sarcasm, Rahul said the prime minister wrote a book (Exam Warriors) telling children how to face the exam and also gave a lecture for two hours on how to prepare for exams.
He said the children took the advice seriously and prepared for the exam with the help of their parents, but when they went to appear for the exam, they were told that the exams were cancelled as the question paper was leaked.
“Modi may have failed in plugging the question paper leak but he may again lecture children how to prepare for exams and will tell them about dos and don’ts during exam,” said Rahul.
On the one side, question papers are leaked, while on the other election dates are also leaked, Rahul quipped.
“It seems RSS has taught Modi that he should stress more on giving lectures. The RSS has taught him to stand, hold stick, wear knickers and speak lies. I think the prime minister is now realising that the nation cannot be run with hatred, lathi, speeches and false promises”, he said.
He took potshots at BJP state unit chief BS Yeddyurappa, who is being projected as the party’s chief ministerial face. Shivamogga is the home district of Yeddyurappa.
“If he looks at the stage properly, on one side (of Modi) there is Yeddyurappa who spent time in jail (in a graft case), on the other side there are four ministers who had been to jail. Modi ji you speak about corruption, when there are corrupt sitting next to you on the stage,” Rahul said.
He quipped that BJP has now started speaking the truth.
“First time the BJP spoke the truth. Whatever they had in their mind they spoke it. Amit Shah said (at Davangere) that Yeddyurappa government was the most corrupt. I am happy he spoke the truth for the first time in his life,” he said.
Rahul was referring to Shah’s gaffe at a press conference at Davangere on 27 March, where he said the Yeddyurappa government was the most corrupt government in the country. He was actually referring to the Siddaramaiah government. Shah had, however, corrected himself immediately.
The Congress president also reminded Modi that the nation cannot be run with hatred, anger, violence and partiality.
He said, “I have seen many prime ministers such as Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, PV Narasimha Rao and Atal Bihari Vajpayee. One thing is clear. If you want to run the nation, you need to run it with love. You can take the nation to any heights with love. The more you connect people, the country will become stronger,” he said.
Before addressing the public meeting, Rahul held a roadshow in Shivamogga city, with thousands of people standing on the sides of the road to greet him.
At a rally in Davangere, Rahul, while referring to the Punjab National Bank scam, asked the crowd, “Okay, do you know who is the lawyer of Nirav Modi? You do not know? Then let me tell you. (It is) Arun Jaitley ji’s daughter.”
He also alleged that Narendra Modi very well knew fugitive diamond merchant Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi, who are linked with Punjab National Bank fraud case.
Rahul asked Modi to check the letters written by people to his office, informing him about Nirav Modi’s ‘loot’ from the bank.
“In the last six to seven months, people wrote letters to the Prime Minister’s Office informing him about Nirav Modi’s loot (from the bank). Modiji, please check,” he said.
On the Karnataka polls, he said it was a fight between two ideologies — BJP and RSS on one side and Congress on the other.
“On the one side BJP-RSS ideology of dividing the country, spreading anger and hate; other side ideology of brotherhood, love and peace by Congress party. RSS and BJP’s thinking is different.
They are told wear half pants, hold lathis and give speeches. Left right, left right,” he said.
Rahul said Modi spoke of the history of the country, but never understood the culture of love, brotherhood and “ahimsa”.
On the petrol and diesel price hike, Rahul said when UPA was in power, the oil price was $140 per barrel and today it is half in the international market.
“When in the international market petrol price was coming down, you are paying high. In whose pocket is the money going? Your money is being looted from you and is being given to 10/12 rich people,” he said.