Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday attacked the Opposition at rallies in three southern states of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka as he highlighted the development work his government has undertaken.
In Guntur, Modi targeted N Chandrababu Naidu and said he does not know how to create wealth for himself, unlike the Andhra Pradesh chief minister. “I am a chowkidar [gatekeeper] keeping a strict vigil in defence of the country’s wealth and Naidu is working hard to make his son rich. This is why the Naidu band of opposition parties, tainted in corruption, is gunning for me,’’ Modi said as he launched the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP)’s election campaign in Andhra Pradesh.
Earlier, activists of the ruling Telugu Desam Party (TDP), the Congress and Left parties shouted “Modi go-back” slogans as the Prime Minister landed at the Gannavaram airport, around 50 km from the venue of his election rally.
Modi’s attack on Naidu came as the Andhra chief minister is preparing for a show of unity of Opposition parties in Delhi with his 12-hour relay fast on February 13 over the Centre’s denial of special status to his state. Naidu has the backing of 22 parties.
Modi dismissed the show of strength as “only worth a photo session” as well as the protests against him on Sunday. “…I will return to power after the 2019 general elections and I should thank the protesters for keeping an evil eye off me with black balloons [they carried on Sunday],” he said.
Naidu hit back at Modi and said he will return to Gujarat and would “certainly not” retain his prime ministerial post. “I have taken up the cudgels for uniting the Opposition for the noble cause of sending Modi home but not for his bashing alone,” Naidu told reporters. “I will not keep quiet until my state gets its due.”
Invoking the legacy of NTR, Modi alleged the Andhra CM was insulting the TDP founder, to which Naidu responded by saying, “personal attacks would beget personal attacks”.
In Karnataka’s Hubballi, Modi mocked the state’s Janata Dal (Secular)-Congress coalition government as “helpless”. He said Karnataka chief minister H D Kumaraswamy had become a “punching bag”. Modi added that the Opposition wants to impose the same model on the rest of the country.
Modi said there was not even a single day “when the country does not see the natak (drama) of the Karnataka government”, as he launched BJP’s campaign for Lok Sabha polls in the state.
“The chief minister here is everyone’s punching bag. Every day he is getting threatened. The chief minister’s whole energy is spent on saving his seat from big Congress leaders,” Modi said, referring to Kumaraswamy, who has often expressed his helplessness in the face of coalition pressures.
“Publicly, he weeps about his helplessness. Such a helpless government, such a helpless chief minister who is being challenged by anyone and everyone. Who is the in charge of the government? There is confusion about it,” Modi said.
in Tamil Nadu’s Tiruppur, Modi accused the Congress of neglecting the defence sector and claimed that for the Opposition party it was only about brokering deals. “From the seas to the skies, the Congress has several scams associated with defence and, in the process, the party did not allow the modernisation of defence forces for long years that they were in power,” Modi said.
In Tamil Nadu, M K Stalin’s Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, which has backed Congress President Rahul Gandhi for the prime ministerial post, led the protests against Modi. In Karnataka and Andhra, chief ministers Kumaraswamy and Naidu skipped the courtesy of receiving Modi at the airport.
Naidu and his cabinet members also stayed away from Modi’s programmes while Andhra Pradesh and Telangana governor E S L Narasimhan received the Prime Minister at Gannavaram airport.
Modi laid the foundation for several projects in the three states.
First Published: Feb 10, 2019 23:42 IST