Bengaluru: Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) National President Amit Shah yesterday flagged off the Nava Karnataka Nirmana Parivarthana Yatra, a 75-day tour across Karnataka led by its State President B.S. Yeddyurappa, kicking off the party’s campaign for Assembly elections due in 2018.
The rally, in which other senior State and Central leaders will also participate, started its journey from Bengaluru yesterday and is looking to cover all 224 constituencies before returning to the capital city on Jan. 28, 2018. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to be part of the event to be held on Jan. 28.
Giving broad indications of the shape the BJP’s campaign would take during the 2018 elections, Amit Shah made a scathing attack on Chief Minister Siddharamaiah remarking that the CM was more enthusiastic about celebrating the birth anniversary of erstwhile Mysuru ruler Tipu Sultan than the prestigious Kannada Rajyotsava or State Formation Day.
It was obvious from the tenor of his speech that the BJP, during the polls, now just six months away, would try to tap pro-Hindu sentiments and focus on the shortcomings of the Congress government and Siddharamaiah in particular. The party has been opposing Tipu Jayanti as it considers Tipu a ‘religious bigot’ and a ‘brutal killer’ of Hindus.
“It is a Yatra to transform the situation in Karnataka. We want to change the condition of farmers, we want to change the condition of youths, we want to change the law and order situation in Karnataka and we want to replace this corrupt government with a honest and visionary one under the leadership of Narendra Modi and Yeddyurappa,’’ Shah said.
“This Parivarthana (transformation) rally is not to change the CM, not to change the government, not to change the legislators. This is to change the state of Karnataka,” Shah said, amid allegations of corruption and misgovernance. He said the aim is to change the plight of farmers and youth, and the law and order situation as well as disempowering the Lokayukta in the State, which he said had hit a new low under the Congress government.
Law and order in the State has collapsed after the Congress came to power and more than 19 RSS and BJP workers had been brutally killed but the CM was busy withdrawing cases filed against the pro-minority SDPI, which has even been branded anti-national, said the BJP Chief.
“Siddharamaiah branded himself as a champion of the backward classes but his party has opposed the Central Bill on providing Constitutional status to the BCs Commission. The Congress even defeated the Bill in the Upper House of the Parliament,” he said.
Hitting out at the CM for his attempts to blame the Centre for meting out step-motherly treatment to the State, Shah reeled out statistics on the release of massive Central grants to Karnataka after the Modi-led government came to power.
According to him, during the tenure of the 13th Finance Commission, the Centre released Rs. 88,583 crore to Karnataka which went up to Rs. 2,19,506 crore under the 14th Finance Commission. The State thus got an additional Rs. 1.30 lakh crore funds, he said and demanded that the CM furnish an account on where the funds had gone.
Shah spoke of a recent survey which had ranked Karnataka as the most corrupt State and alleged that the Siddharamaiah government was involved in the steel bridge scam and murky real estate deals.
He referred to the seizure of a diary from a Congress MLC considered close to the CM in which the names of several Ministers and payments made, had allegedly figured and said the CM was hesitant to demand the resignation of these Ministers as he feared they would expose him.
C.P. Yogeshwar, a rebel Congress member of the Legislative Assembly from Channapatna and an independent MLA from Kudachi, P. Rajeev joined the BJP in Shah’s presence.