Days after Union Home Minister Amit Shah urged people of Ballari to trust “Modi and Yediyurappa”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BS Yediyurappa put up a show of bonhomie on Monday, 27 February.
During a one-day visit to Karnataka, Modi showered praises on the Karnataka veteran who turned 80 on Monday and inaugurated an airport in Yediyurappa’s home turf of Shivamogga.
While Modi extended birthday wishes to the popular Lingayat leader and BJP Parliamentary Board member, he made no mention of Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai or his government in both his speeches — in Shivamogga and Belagavi.
He merely mentioned the Karnataka government and “our chief minister” in the context of the Jal Jeevan Mission.
Congress Party leaders have mocked Bommai on the issue. The chief minister was present on the stage at both the events.
In his speech today at Shivamogga, PM @narendramodi didn’t mention @CMofKarnataka @BSBommai once. He referred to “BJP govt in Karnataka” & @BSYBJP several times though. It’s becoming evident that BJP is consciously disowning it’s current leadership in govt. First Shah now Modi https://t.co/cWbmaL5I96
— Anusha Ravi Sood (@anusharavi10) February 27, 2023
Union Home Minister Amit Shah, too, while addressing a public meeting in Sandur town in Ballari district on 4 February, had sought people’s support to “Modi and Yediyurappa”, but had not taken Bommai’s name.
Related: Locals ignored, BJP national leaders to lead Karnataka poll campaign
Modi inaugurated and laid the foundation stone for projects worth ₹6,000 crore in Shivamogga and Belagavi, a press release from the PMO said. He also inaugurated the greenfield airport at Shivamogga and the re-developed railway station in Belagavi city. It was Modi’s fifth visit to poll-bound Karnataka this year alone.
‘Built 74 airports in nine years’
Modi inspected works inside the airport, after his aircraft became the first to land in the greenfield airport built at an estimated cost of ₹450 crore. The prime minister applauded his government’s efforts in boosting aviation under the UDAN scheme, which is aimed at connecting airports in small- and medium-sized cities with those in the bigger cities.
“Unlike the approach of previous governments, the current government pushed for airports in smaller cities,” Modi said in his address to the gathering in Shivamogga. “Till 2014, the country had 74 airports in the first seven decades of independence whereas in the last nine years, 74 new airports have been added, connecting many smaller cities.”
Glad to have inaugurated the airport in Shivamogga. pic.twitter.com/I3cLj2y4n2
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) February 27, 2023
“Hawai chappal-wearing common citizens should be able to travel by airplane. I am seeing it happening. In the coming days India will need thousands of aircraft, and the days of Made-in-India passenger aircraft are not far,” Modi also said.
Taking dig at the Congress, Modi said: “Before 2014, during the Congress regime, Air-India was generally discussed in a negative light and its identity had always been associated with scams where it was deemed a loss-making business model.”
But today, “it is recognised as the potential of new India where it is soaring to the heights of success”, he added.
‘Yediyurappa an inspiration’
On Yediyurappa’s 80th birthday, Modi garlanded the four-time Karnataka chief minister with betel nut beads, and presented him a Mysuru ‘Peta’ (turban) and a green shawl with a tiller. He also recalled Yediyurappa’s last speech in the Karnataka legislative Assembly, terming it an “inspiration to every person in public life.”
“I pray for his long life. He spent his entire life for the welfare of poor people and farmers,” Modi said.
“Yediyurappa’s life will inspire us as well as those from the next generation on how to maintain humility in conduct despite attaining heights of success. He spent his prime and 50-60 years of public life for an ideology,” he added.
Modi asked people to switch on the flashlights of their mobile phones to commemorate Yediyurappa’s birthday. Thousands of people responded enthusiastically, pointing their lit devices towards the stage.
Yediyurappa, who has announced his retirement from electoral politics, expressed his gratitude to the people of Shivamogga for electing him as their public representative.
Modi releases farmer funds
Modi also announced the release of the 13th instalment, worth over ₹16,000 crore, under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN). The money is to be distributed to eight crore farmers via direct benefit transfer. Under the scheme, eligible farmers are provided ₹6,000 per year financial assistance in three equal instalments of ₹2,000 each.
Stating that the BJP government is committed to the development of farmers, Modi said: “When BJP came to power in 2014, the annual budgetary allocation for the agriculture sector was merely [₹] 25,000 crore. Now, the budget allocation for the agriculture sector stands at ₹1.5 lakh crore.”
“The budgetary allocation for agriculture has been increased five-fold. In order to help farmers, the BJP government is serious and actively working. We stressed technology usage in agriculture. This is benefiting farmers at large scale,” added Modi.
Related: Will make K’taka corruption-free, says Shah; admission of guilt, say netizens
During the programme, Modi also dedicated the redeveloped Belagavi Railway Station building to the nation. The railway station has been redeveloped at a cost of about Rs 190 crore, significantly enhancing passenger amenities. He also dedicated a project that doubled the rail line between Londa-Belagavi-Ghataprabha section to the nation.
Modi also laid the foundation stone of six multi-village scheme projects in Belagavi to be run under the Centre’s Jal Jeevan Mission. The projects will be developed at a combined cost of about ₹1,585 crore and benefit about 8.8 lakh people in more than 315 villages.
Congress ‘insulting’ Kharge, says Modi
While addressing the massive crowd in Belagavi, Modi came heavily on the central leadership of Congress.
“Congress has always had a hatred towards Karnataka. History is proof of how the Congress family (referring to the Nehru-Gandhi family) insulted former Karnataka chief ministers S Nijalingappa and Virendra Patil, and Karnataka people know this well. This is the culture of the grand old party”, he said.
“This time again AICC president Mallikarjun Kharge has been insulted by the Congress family. I have huge respect for him and his work. I was upset to see how, in an AICC plenary session in Chhattisgarh, he was disrespected,” Modi said.
“In the scorching sun the umbrella was held for another person… and not for the seniormost politician Kharge. This is how he is being treated. Kharge is the president of Congress for namesake, but the remote control is with others,” he said.
Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Narendra Singh Tomar, Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi, Union Minister of State Shobha Karandlaje, and other state ministers were present at the event.
Also read: Nijalingappa, leader of rare integrity who played key role in Karnataka unification
Massive road show in Belagavi
After taking part in an event in Shivamogga, Modi flew to Belagavi, where he received a rousing welcome. The city was decked up with saffron flags, BJP flags, and posters of Modi and other leaders of the party.
Modi held a massive road show of about 10 km along the main thoroughfares of the city, waving at enthusiastic crowds that lined the roads.
At many places, people showered flower petals on Modi’s cavalcade. Over 10,000 women clad in sarees and saffron peta gave a traditional “purnakumbha” (ceremonial) welcome to Modi.
However, at many junctions there were only thin crowds to cheer Modi, causing the prime minister to sit inside his car instead of standing outside to greet supporters. Police kept tight security throughout the cavalcade’s route, with at least two personnel deployed every 10 meters.