Karnataka Assembly elections: PM Modi to close BJP’s Nava Nirman Parivarthan yatra with a massive rally in Bengaluru todayPhoto:PTI

BENGALURU: Prime Minister Narandra Modi to close BJP’s Nava Nirman Parivarthan yatra with a massive rally in Bengaluru on Sunday.

The BJP conducted the yatra in poll-bound Karnataka for 90 days crisscrossing nearly all the 224 constituencies.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address a massive BJP rally in Bengaluru today to mark the conclusion of the party’s 90-day Nava Nirman Parivarthan yatra across poll-bound Karnataka, said a party official on Saturday.

“Modi will arrive in the city on Sunday afternoon and address the rally at the Palace grounds in the evening. Thousands of our cadres from across the state and people from the city will participate in the event,” the official told IANS.

Though Modi was scheduled to address the rally on January 28, on the conclusion of the three-month yatra that began here on November 1, it was put off to February 4, owing to his pre-occupation with other engagements.

“As the budget session of Parliament was beginning on January 29 and the Union Budget was to be presented on February 1, Modi could not attend the rally on last Sunday as he was busy then,” recalled the party functionary.

Elaborate security arrangements have been made for the rally at the sprawling venue in the city centre where the party is expecting at least one lakh people to attend and listen to Modi’s speech.

“We have invited thousands of youth, especially techies and executives of IT and biotech companies in the city to personally listen to Modi’s speech though it will also be telecast live on news channels and available on YouTube,” asserted the official.

The party’s state unit has opened an online registration and is using the social media, including Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp to personally invite the youth, techies, educated class and prominent citizens to the venue, assuring them of seating arrangements.

“About 30,000 people from across the city have responded, expressing interest in attending the rally and listen to Modi’s speech. We hope most of them will turn up as elaborate parking facility has been made for their vehicles at the venue,” added the official.

In the run-up to the state election, due in late April and early May, the BJP conducted the yatra, criss-crossing nearly all the 224 constituencies of the assembly across the state after its national president Amit Shah flagged it off.

The yatra, held with a view to bringing the Bharatiya Janata Party back to power in the southern state on the plank of transforming Karnataka through development, was led by its state unit president and former Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa and party’s other state leaders.

Besides Shah, party’s central ministers Prakash Javadekar and Piyush Goyal who are in-charge of the BJP poll campaign in Karnataka, Ananth Kumar, D.V. Sadananda Gowda and Ananthkumar Hegde who hail from the state and the party’s all-state leaders will participate in the rally and address the public.As the pro-Kannada organisations have withdrawn their call for a Bengaluru shutdown on Sunday for the Prime Minister’s intervention in the sharing of the Mahadayi river water with Goa state, the party’s organisers are betting on a huge response to the rally from the public on a weekend.

Karnataka polls will be a battle between me and Narendra Modi: CM Siddaramaiah.

Talking to media perions Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said the upcoming Assembly polls in the state would be a battle between two ideologies – communalism and secularism.

Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said the upcoming Assembly polls in the state would be a battle between two ideologies – communalism and secularism.

He also denied that there was an anti-incumbency factor for the Congress and said the party would retain power in the southern state by winning the polls with a “comfortable majority”.

Siddaramaiah was in the national capital to discuss the party’s poll preparedness and strategy at a meeting called by Congress president Rahul Gandhi, which lasted for about three-and-a-half hours.

“This (election) will not be a battle between me and (BS) Yeddyurappa. It will not be a contest between me and (Prime Minister) Narendra Modi. It will be a battle of two ideologies — secularism and communalism,” Siddaramaiah told reporters after the meeting.

Karnataka Congress president G Parameshwara, working presidents S R Patil and Dinesh Gundu Rao, the party’s Karnataka in-charge K C Venugopal were also present at the meeting, besides senior leaders Mallikarjun Kharge, K Rahman Khan, K H Muniyappa, Oscar Fernandes and Veerappa Moily.

This was the first meeting called by the Congress president in the Karnataka polls after last month’s Gujarat Assembly election.

Siddaramaiah said the party’s poll preparedness was reviewed in detail at the meeting and its strategy chalked out.

“He (Gandhi) is very happy with the functioning of the party (in Karnataka) and the (state) government.

Our government is not facing any anti-incumbency. We will win the upcoming polls with a comfortable majority,” he added.

Siddaramaiah claimed that the Congress had not only honoured all the promises it had made in its manifesto for the previous state polls, but “even some of the programmes not in the manifesto were implemented”.

“Therefore, the chances of winning are very high and I am confident that the party will come back to power again,” he said.

Claiming that the BJP had no poll agenda for the state, Siddaramaiah said, “They (BJP leaders) are raising irrelevant issues in Karnataka. That will not work.”

Even the Hindutva issue raised by BJP president Amit Shah and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath were not a matter of concern for the Congress, he claimed.

“They (BJP) are following (Hindutva) sans humanity. Being a Hindu myself, I follow it with humanity,” Siddaramaiah said.

Venugopal said senior leaders had assured the party president that they would work in “unity” and win the upcoming Karnataka polls.

“The BJP is trying to polarise the people because they have no other slogan or programme. Similarly, other parties are also up to some mischief or the other. But the Congress party is confident of winning the polls,” he added.

BJP, RSS are ‘Hindu extremists’, says CM Siddaramaiah

Siddaramaiah, who came under intense attack from the BJP for saying that the party and its fountainhead RSS had “terrorists”, after he said them “Hindutva extremists”.

Keeping up his attack on the BJP and the RSS, Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah  called them  “Hindu extremists” but the saffron party hit back saying it was the Congress which supported separatists.

The BJP also dared Siddaramaiah to arrest its as well as RSS leaders.

Siddaramaiah, who came under intense attack from the BJP  he said  that, the party and its fountainhead RSS had “terrorists”, later he  called them “Hindutva extremists”.

“I had said Hindutva extremists,” he told reporters in Chamarajanagara when asked about his remarks, which had stirred a hornet’s nest in the poll-bound state.

But, later speaking to reporters in Mysuru, Siddaramaiah said, “I had said they are Hindutva terrorists I am also a Hindu, but I’m a Hindu with humanity, they are Hindus without humanity.

That is the difference between me and… (them),” he said.

He quoted a Kannada proverb to say that “it is like one touching his shoulder to check when called a pumpkin thief,” implying that one with a guilty conscience needs no accuser.

Calling Siddaramaiah “irresponsible” for linking the party built by Atal Bihari Vajpayee with terrorists, BJP MP Shobha Karandlaje alleged that “if there is terrorism in this country today, Congress is the main reason for it, also for the situation in Kashmir.

Accusing the Congress of having supported and encouraging the Khalistan movement, she said, “we have lost several officers, soldiers, leaders and also prime minister because of it.”

Karandlaje also alleged that the Congress had “sheltered, financed and trained” LTTE and its leader Prabhakaran.

Siddaramaiah had yesterday alleged that the BJP, the RSS and the Bajrang Dal have terrorists within their organisations, a charge rubbished by the saffron party.

“They are themselves like terrorists in a way. The BJP, the RSS and the Bajarang Dal also have terrorists within,” he had saidtaking his attack on the ruling Congress’ principal rival to anew level ahead of the assembly polls due early this year.

Reacting strongly to the remarks, the state BJP had accused Siddaramaiah of desperately trying to polarise elections on communal lines “by calling BJP-RSS terror organisations”.

Senior state BJP leader and MLA Suresh Kumar asked when he would get arrested as he was from the RSS.

“When will I get arrested? Chief Minister has named me as a terrorist, because I’m RSS,” Kumar said in a tweet in Kannada.

“I’m also RSS, arrest me too,” he said in another tweet.

Citing a spate of killings of Hindu activists in the state, particularly in the coastal Dakshina Kannada district, the BJP has been demanding a ban on Islamist outfit PFI and its political wing Social Democratic Part of India (SDPI) holding them responsible for it.

On the other hand, the PFI has blamed the Sangh Parivar for the killing of those from Muslim community in the region.

2018 polls ‘most likely’ my last election, contesting to stop BJP: Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah

Indicating that the 2018 assembly polls could “most likely” be his last election, Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said that he is contesting to stop the BJP from coming back to power.

Indicating that the 2018 assembly polls could “most likely” be his last election, Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said that he is contesting to stop the BJP from coming back to power.

“Most likely the forthcoming assembly election will be the last election for me,” Siddaramaiah told reporters at Raichur in north Karnataka.

However, Siddaramaiah maintained that he would remain active in politics, but not contest assembly polls.

Earlier during the 2013 assembly polls, Siddaramaiah had said that it was his last election.

Conceding that he had during the 2013 polls stated it would be his last election, the Chief Minister said he was contesting to stop BJP from getting back to power.

“Looking at elections and the political system,I had felt it is enough, but looking at communal politics by BJP, I felt I should stand for election. Also, the high command said that I should contest,” he said.

“I have the responsibility to see to that BJP does not come back to power, so I’m contesting,” he added.

The Congress has announced Siddaramaiah would be the party’s face during the 2018 Assembly polls, and is yet to decide on the Chief Ministerial candidate.

Stating that he would contest from Chamundeshwari constituency in Mysuru district, Siddaramaiah said there are 20 constituencies other than that or Varuna from where he could contest and win.

“Chamundeshwari is the constituency that gave me political strength and rebirth, so I felt I should end from there,” he said.

Making his debut in the Assembly in 1983,Siddaramaiah got elected from Chamundeshwari on a Lok Dal Party ticket. He has won from the constituency five times and seen defeat twice.

Siddaramaiah represents Varuna in Mysuru after it came into existence in 2008 following the reorganisation of constituencies.

Speculations are rife that the chief minister is keen on fielding his son Yatindra from Varuna.