Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Thursday accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of resorting to personal attacks during election campaigns, but said that he would never make such remarks about him.
“PM Modi resorts to personal attacks and character assassination when he is desperate,” Gandhi said at an election rally in Karnataka’s Aurad town. “No matter what he says about me, I will never make a personal attack on him as he is the prime minister of the country, but I can ask him questions.”
Gandhi accused Modi of remaining silent about the Punjab National Bank scam allegedly perpetrated by fugitive businessman Nirav Modi, and the questions raised about the business deals of Bharatiya Janata Party National President Amit Shah’s son Jay Shah. “While the poor people of the country stood in queues and went through troubles post demonetisation, the likes of ‘Chhota Modi’ looted people’s money and escaped,” Gandhi said, referring to Nirav Modi.
He asked the prime minister why he shared the stage with the BJP’s chief ministerial candidate, BS Yeddyurappa, even though he spoke of fighting corruption. Yeddyurappa’s previous tenure at the helm of the state was marred by allegations of corruption.
The Congress president accused the central government of destroying small businesses by implementing the Goods and Services Tax, or the Gabbar Singh Tax as he calls it. “In the movie Sholay, there was Gabbar Singh, you brought the Gabbar Singh Tax but now you gone even further,” the Hindustan Times quoted Gandhi as saying. “Now you are trying to put the entire Gabbar Singh team in the Karnataka Assembly...Gabbar is there, Samba is there, Kalia is also there...the entire gang of Reddy brothers, who were in jail, you are trying to place them in the Assembly.”
Mining baron and former Karnataka minister G Janardhan Reddy, who has spent three years in jail on charges of corruption and illegal mining, has campaigned for the BJP in northern parts of the state. His brothers Somasekhar Reddy and Karunakara Reddy are contesting the elections on BJP tickets. Anil Lad, who was arrested by the CBI in July 2015 in connection with the illegal mining scam, is the Congress’ candidate against Somasekhar Reddy. The Congress has also fielded the Reddy brothers’ former aides Anand Singh and B Nagendra, both of whom face charges of illegal mining. Singh, who was in jail with G Janaradhan Reddy, is contesting from Vijaynagara while Nagendra has been fielded from Kudligi.
Gandhi, who will also address rallies in Bhalki and Humnabad in Bidar district later in the day, said that the media was also crumbling under the BJP’s pressure. “We must all stand firmly behind journalists who are still doing their difficult jobs in this stifling atmosphere of fear, threat and intimidation.”