Hubballi | In a scathing attack on the BJP, senior Congress leader Sonia Gandhi on Saturday said Karnataka and the rest of the country cannot make progress without getting rid of the ruling party's "loot, lies, ego and hatred".
Making her maiden entry into the 2023 Karnataka Assembly poll battle here, Sonia also said the Bharat Jodo Yatra led by her son Rahul Gandhi a few months ago was against those spreading hatred. "This was the reason that lakhs of people joined Rahul Gandhi's 4,000 km march".
"Neither Karnataka nor India can make progress without getting rid of the atmosphere of BJP's loot, lies, ego and hatred," Gandhi said in her first public rally in the poll-bound state, which votes on May 10.
The former Congress president said: "It is everyone's responsibility to strengthen our voice against this (BJP) government's dark rule." She was flanked on the stage by Congress President M Mallikarjun Kharge, Rahul Gandhi and former Karnataka Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar who recently quit BJP over the denial of ticket and joined the party. The party has fielded Shettar, a six-time MLA, from Hubli-Dharwad Central constituency, from where he had won the previous Assembly polls in 2018.
Gandhi said people have seen how rattled the BJP was in this election due to which it has resorted to all "kinds of repression".
“Don't you feel that dacoity has become the business of those in power? You had not given them power in 2018 but they robbed the government and captured it. Then, their 40 per cent commission government got busy in looting,” she charged.
Accusing BJP leaders of being "egoistic", she said they neither answer any questions nor any letter addressed to them.
Gandhi made an indirect reference to the letter written by the contractors' association in Karnataka to the Prime Minister about 40 per cent commission being charged from them for public works in the state.
“They (BJP leaders) are not bothered about accountability. They think that they have pocketed all the constitutional institutions. I want to ask you whether you have ever seen such arbitrariness. Does democracy function like this? No,” Gandhi said.
According to her, the situation today is such that the BJP leaders openly issue threats that if their party does not win the Karnataka election then the state will not get the "blessings" of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Referring to Union Home Minister Amit Shah's statement in an election rally that there will be riots in Karnataka if Congress comes to power in the state, Gandhi, without naming him, said: "They say that if the BJP loses, then there will be riots here. On your behalf, I want to tell them not to treat the people of Karnataka as powerless and helpless." The people of the state do not depend on anyone's blessings but rely on their hard work and firm decisions, she underlined.
“The people of Karnataka are not cowardly and greedy so that you can induce them. The people of Karnataka will tell you on May 10 what they are made of.” Gandhi also raised the issue of the alleged attempt of merging Karnataka Milk Federation's Nandini brand with Gujarat-based Amul.
"The time has come now to tell them (BJP) that they will not succeed here in their conspiracy to loot a good institution like Nandini (Karnataka Milk Federation's cooperative dairy brand), ignoring the interests of lakhs of farmers and milk producers,” she said.
Gandhi also appealed to the people to remind those in power that the fate of the leaders is decided by the blessings of the people and not the other way round.
Invoking the name of 12th century social reformer Basaveshwara, she said ‘Bhagwan Basavanna' always favoured equal opportunities to everyone without any discrimination.
Gandhi said the BJP has been insulting the great Kannada poet Kuvempu and cautioned them against "playing with the history of India and the hundreds of years old tradition of social justice".
"To meet your (BJP) political interests, don't push the nation and Karnataka towards destruction,” the Congress leader said.