PM Narendra Modi puts himself, Savarkar in Dr BR Ambedkar’s league over ‘Congress abuse’

In his first official election speech in poll-bound Karnataka, Narendra Modi highlighted central schemes and the '91 times Congress abused' him.

BySouth First Desk

Published Apr 29, 2023 | 3:54 PMUpdated Apr 29, 2023 | 3:54 PM

PM Modi at an election rally in Kudachi, Karnataka

Prime Minister Narendra Modi began his official election campaign for the 10 May Karnataka Assembly election 2023 on Saturday, 29 April.

In his first public address in Humnabad of Bidar, Modi put himself and Hindutva icon VD Savarkar in the same league as Dr BR Ambedkar — all while referring to Congress’ “personal attacks and abuse” against him.

“Congress leaders have abused me 91 times. It made me think about how Congress didn’t spare even the Father of Indian Constitution, Dr BR Ambedkar from their abuse,” Modi said.

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“Babasaheb himself had once in public explained in detail how Congress abused him repeatedly. Congress used words like ‘rakshas‘, ‘rashtradrohi‘, ‘Dagabaaz Dost’ to abuse a great man like Babasaheb. Today, too, we see Congress abusing Veer Savarkar,” the prime minister said.

“When I see this, it think that Congress heaps abuses on me just like it did to Dr Ambedkar and Savarkar. They accord the same respect to me that they give to great men like them. The abuse they heaped on Ambedkar and Savarkar are the same abuses being heaped on Modi.

“Like Babasaheb and Savarkar if they abuse Modi too, then I take it as a gift,” Modi said, adding that while Congress “wastes its time abusing him”, he would dedicate himself in the service of the people.

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Modi’s “abuse and personal attack” pitch comes after AICC President Mallikarjun Kharge likened him to a “poisonous snake” during his election rally.

As a row erupted, and Kharge 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”.

The BJP, however, had already turned the statement into ammo.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah, too, in his election rallies in Karnataka since Friday, has been attacking the Congress over “personal abuse”.

In retaliation, BJP MLA and star campaigner Basanagouda Pati Yatnal had referred to UPA chairperson and former Congress president Sonia Gandhi as “visha kanye” during his poll speech on Friday.

Modi recalls previous ‘personal jibes’

Modi seized the opportunity to recall past instances where leaders of Congress had made personal remarks against him and expanded the same to OBC communities as well as Lingayats.

Public meeting of PM Modi in Karnataka

Public meeting of PM Modi in Karnataka. (Twitter)

“I’m not the only one who has been attacked like this. Last election they ran a campaign ‘Chowkidar chor hai’, then they said ‘Modi Chor’, then they said ‘OBC community are chor’, and now just the election season has started in Karnataka they showed the guts of calling my Lingayat brothers and sisters chor,” Modi said.

“Congress people listen with open ears, whenever you have abused someone they have punished you in such a way that you have not been able to withstand it. This time Karnataka has decided to respond to the abuses, the pain inflicted to their pride, through votes,” Modi said even as he sought a clear mandate in favour of the BJP with the slogan ‘Ee baariya nirdhara, Bahumatada BJP Sarkara’ (This time the decision is, BJP government with a majority).

On his first day of public rallies in Karnataka, Modi also highlighted Union government schemes and pushed BJP’s “double engine government” pitch.

Karnataka needs a :double engine BJP government”, so that there is a coordination between the Centre and the state, there are no obstacles, infrastructure projects get completed at a fast pace, so that the confidence among foreign investors is strong, and also that Karnataka becomes growth engine of the country instead of becoming Congress’ ATM, he said.

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Accusing the Congress of dividing the country, and always indulging in appeasement politics, he said the party does not understand the troubles of the poor as they haven’t seen poverty.

Highlighting how Bidar’s “Bidri” craft artist Shah Rasheed Ahmed Quadri was recently awarded the Padma Shri, Modi accused the Congress of disappointing him for decades.

Quadri, who received Padma Shri from President Droupadi Murmu recently, had told Modi that he was wrong in believing that the BJP government would not honour him with the prestigious civilian award.

Stating that Karnataka has faced the consequences of unstable and coalition governments, the prime minister said the focus of an unstable government would not be on serving people.

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Recalling how former chief minister HD Kumaraswamy, as the head of the Congress-JD(S) coalition government, had admitted that he was functioning at the mercy of Congress, Modi said, “That fear of saving the seat or power, won’t allow them to do anything for you.”

Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai and Union Minister Bhagawanth Khuba, among others, were present at the election rally.

(With PTI inputs)