Coming down heavily on the Congress on the issue of corruption, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said the grand old party had always been associated with "85 per cent commission", and its "shahi parivar" (royal family) was out on bail in connection with scams worth thousands of crores of rupees.
Addressing three rallies in 'Old Mysuru' (South Karnataka), where BJP is considered to be weak and is focusing on winning more seats in this Vokkaliga-dominated region with an aim at returning to power with a majority, he hit out at opponents JD(S) and Congress, calling them a "sign of instability".
He cautioned the people that they could not afford to give the state's fortune into the hands of the Congress, a party "whose main aim is to serve a family sitting in Delhi", and the JD(S) which is "completely a private limited party of a family".
Addressing a public meeting in Kolar, Modi while targeting Congress on corruption, trained guns at its president M Mallikarjun Kharge for his 'venomous snake' barb at him, and said that the snake was the charm of lord Shiva's neck, and for him the people of the country were a "form of god", and he was fine with being compared to the snake on their necks.
"There is a reason why the country has lost trust in Congress and its 'shahi parivar'. Congress's identity has always been associated with 85 percent commission. During Congress's rule its top leader and then prime minister used to say with pride that if he sends Re one from Delhi,15 paise reaches them (people) on the ground. Congress's claws used to snatch away 85 paise of the poor," he said.
The Prime Minister said, "This is not BJP's allegation, but it is the public acceptance of the Congress's former prime minister. Congress that eats 85 per cent commission can never work for the development of Karnataka."
Modi's attack on the Congress comes as a counter to the Kharge-led party's strong campaign against the ruling BJP in Karnataka over allegations levelled by a contractors' association that the state government's leaders were taking "40 per cent commission".
The Prime Minister said "hundred per cent" of the amount sent by the BJP government today "reached the beneficiaries". In the past nine years, with the strength of 'Digital India', Rs 29 lakh crore had been credited into the bank accounts of the poor under various schemes, he claimed.
"If Congress that eats 85 per cent commission had continued, Rs 24 lakh crore out of this could not have reached the poor," he claimed, adding that BJP came to power only nine years ago and stopped this. He asked people to "imagine about the lakhs of crores of rupees that Congress leaders had filled in their lockers before that".
"Even today, Congress's 'shahi parivar' and people close to it are out on bail in a scam involving thousands of crores of rupees. Those facing charges of corruption, and are out on bail, are today coming to Karnataka and preaching. Congress, whose top leaders are facing charges of corruption, and members of whose 'shahi parivar' are out on bail cannot take action against corruption," he added.
Noting that the Congress was facing the most difficulty due to his actions against corruption, the Prime Minister said that was the reason that the party's "hate" against him had increased day-by-day.
"They have further increased their attack against me. Congress people are issuing threats these days. They are saying 'Modi teri qabr khudegi' (Modi, your grave will be dug). Now in Karnataka's election, Congress's biggest issue is the snake and its venom," he said.
Congress and its leaders were comparing him to a snake and were asking for votes from the people, Modi said, "but snake is the charm of Lord Shankar's (Shiva) neck, and for me the people of the country are the form of Lord Eshwar, they are the form of Shiva. So I'm fine with being the snake that adorns the neck of the people."
"I know that the people of Karnataka, the land of saints and sanskar, will give a befitting reply to Congress's abuses through votes. The anger of the people against the Congress will reflect through votes on May 10," he added.
Making a speech in a campaign rally in the state on Thursday, Kharge likened Modi to a venomous snake. As a row erupted, he later backtracked stating that his intention was not to hurt anyone's feelings and the "statement was not for PM Modi, but for the ideology he represents".
Modi addressed another public meeting later on Sunday in Belur in Hassan district, in which he called the JD(S) the 'B-team' of Congress. He said,
"Every vote you cast in favour of JD(S) will go into the Congress's account, while voting for Congress means putting a break to Karnataka's development."
"This time Karnataka has decided to end the decades of jod-tod (coalition) politics. Congress and JD(S) both are signs of instability. In whichever states Congress governments are remaining, there its identity is of rivalry between its leaders. You are too seeing what is happening in Rajasthan and Chattisgarh," Modi said.
He added, "People in those states are fed up. Development has come to a halt. All the poll guarantees of Congress have become a bundle of lies. There are internal rifts within the Congress."
Hassan is the home district of former Prime minister H D Deve Gowda and is a JD(S) bastion. JD(S) had won six out of seven Assembly seats in the district in 2018, while BJP had won one (Hassan segment) making it the saffron party's first win in the Vokkaliga-dominated district in the recent past.
Claiming that Congress's 'B-team' JD(S) is "dreaming", the PM said it wants to somehow win 15-20 seats, and wants a share in the "loot".
"In Karnataka, Congress and JD(S) are showing off that they are opponents. You can look at the statements of Congress and JD(S) ahead of the 2018 Assembly polls; they were abusing each other, and when the election results were about to be announced, they joined hands. Such show-off fights continue between Congress and JD(S) like WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment)." he said.
Before coming to Hassan, Modi addressed a rally in Channapatna, and accused Congress and JD(S) of encouraging corruption. He alleged that both parties saw Karnataka as an ATM, and that they found opportunity in instability.
Channapatna is where JD(S)' second-in-command and Deve Gowda's son H D Kumaraswamy won the 2018 assembly election defeating BJP candidate C P Yogeeshwara, and is again seeking reelection against him.