‘During Modi’s rule, Gujarat fared poorly in infant mortality, women’s health’

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has questioned the achievements of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi as Chief Minister of Gujarat. He was speaking at a well-attended election campaign meeting of the Congress at the Malpe beach here.

Mr. Siddaramaiah said that a lot was made about Mr. Modi being an efficient administrator. If this was the case how did the Godhra riots take place in 2002? Nearly 1,000 persons had lost their lives in the riots. As Chief Minister, it was Mr. Modi’s responsibility to maintain law and order. “Even the then Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee did not want Mr. Modi to continue as Chief Minister,” he said

Mr. Siddaramaiah said that Mr. Modi was urging voters to give him 60 months when they had given power to the Congress at the Centre for nearly 60 years. In the past 12 years that Mr. Modi had been in power, Gujarat’s performance on infant mortality and nourishment of women had been poor, he said.

The chief Minister said that the debt burden of Gujarat, which was Rs. 42,000 crore, when Mr. Modi took over as Chief Minister, was now a whopping Rs. 1,76,000 crore. Maharashtra topped the country in industrial development, Karnataka was in the second place, while Gujarat was in the third place. “What progress in Gujarat is Mr. Modi talking about?” he asked.

‘Suppression of fact’

Stating that Mr. Modi was economical with the truth, Mr. Siddaramaiah demanded to know the delay in revelation of Mr. Modi’s marital status. “Suppression of facts in an affidavit is an offence. In this case, a Chief Minister had suppressed the facts. Can such a person become the Prime Minister of the country?” he said.

The BJP was always opposed to reservations. The Congress had promised reservation to the weaker sections in the private sector in its manifesto. “But the BJP will never support such an affirmative action,” he said.

Criticising the BJP’s manifesto, Mr. Siddaramaiah said that its manifesto was committed to the construction of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya. It also wanted abolition of Article 370 which provided special status to Jammu and Kashmir. The manifesto also backed Uniform Civil Code. These issues always found a place in the BJP manifesto because of the pressure of the RSS. “Mr. Modi is a hardcore RSS man. The RSS wants to implement its agenda through Mr. Modi,” he said.

Mr. Siddaramaiah said that Mr. Modi was speaking of corruption in the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Government in Mysore recently. While doing so, the former Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa, facing grave charges of corruption, was sitting beside him. “As many as 13 ministers in Mr. Yeddyurappa’s cabinet had to resign because of charges of corruption, including the Chief Minister,” he said.

Our Staff Correspondent reports from Belthangady:

Mr. Siddaramaiah said the five-year rule of the BJP saw Mr. Yeddyurappa and ministers, namely Katta Subramanya Naidu, Janardhana Reddy and Hartal Halappa go to prison. “They (BJP) think people have forgotten … These accused persons are now on bail. Days are not far when they will go to prison once again. Investigations are on by the Central Bureau of Investigation and by the Karnataka Lokayukta,” he said.

In the past 10 months, Mr. Siddaramaiah said his government had fulfilled 95 of the 165 promises made in the manifesto.

Asking voters to elect B. Janardhana Poojary, Mr. Siddaramaiah said the party will win 20 of the 28 seats in Karnataka.

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