Karnataka Congress up in arms over Modi’s jibe at Kharge

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s digs at Congress leader in the Lok Sabha M. Mallikarjun Kharge and Chief Minister Siddaramaiah drew sharp response in poll-bound Karnataka, with Congressmen taking to Twitter to hit back.

Mr. Modi on Wednesday said that Mr. Kharge’s speech in Parliament could be his farewell speech after the Karnataka elections later this year. Referring to a poem by Bashir Badr, which Mr. Kharge had cited in his speech while cautioning the BJP against politics of hate, Mr. Modi hoped the MP’s words were being heard by the Karnataka Chief Minister too.

IT, BT and Tourism Minister Priyank Kharge, son of Mr. Mallikarjun Kharge, hit back at the Prime Minister soon after on Twitter. He said, “In a democracy PM’s fate also is decided by people. People of Kalburagi & Karnataka will decide Mr. Kharge’s fate. Till then let us discuss Gujarat Model of Development v/s Karnataka Model. Great oratory skills can’t mask lies for long.”

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah chose to respond to the reference in PM’s speech to Basavanna, the 12th Century social reformer and Lingayat icon, while countering Congress claims that the first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru is the father of democracy.

Mr. Siddaramaiah responded with a tongue-in-cheek tweet saying: “It was good of you to have remembered me in the Parliament today. I am glad you also remembered Basavanna. Basava said ‘Those with wealth will build temples; what do I do a poor man?’ Kannadigas will thank you sir if you could follow Basavanna’s teachings.”

The Chief Minister also sought to link the Prime Minister’s reference to Basavanna to the ongoing agitation seeking separate religion status to Lingayats. In a subsequent tweet, he said: “Great to hear the PM speak on Basavanna. Now it is time to #WalkTheTalk. Basavanna believed in “equality”. Will he & his party still change the Constitution which stands for everyone or they want only a Hindu Rashtra? “Sabka saath sabka vikas” is only for speeches?”

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