KARNATAKA

Krishna lashes out at Modi

MYSORE, APRIL 24. The Chief Minister, S.M. Krishna, today lashed out at the Gujarat Chief Minister, Narendra Modi, for his reported call to "convert Karnataka into Gujarat" during his recent visit to the State.

Addressing an election meeting at the Town Hall here today, Mr. Krishna criticised the BJP for its "shameful" move to bring Mr. Modi for its election campaign in Karnataka. Though the Prime Minister, A.B. Vajpayee, had deplored what had happened in Gujarat, his "chota shishya" (pupil) was issuing calls to the contrary, Mr. Krishna said.

By inviting Mr. Modi for its election campaign in Karnataka, the BJP had lost whatever little reputation it had left, he said and drew attention to the contrast between the speeches delivered by Mr. Modi and the Maharashtra Chief Minister, Sushil Kumar Shinde, who had spoken just before Mr. Krishna addressed the gathering. "The Maharashtra Chief Minister spoke in a very dignified manner," he said.

Reiterating that the Congress party would never allow "a Gujarat" to take place in Karnataka, Mr. Krishna cautioned the BJP that though his Government spoke softly, it would not hesitate to use the lathi (stick) to curb any such efforts.

Mr. Krishna also criticised the Prime Minister for his refusal to release foodgrains to the State to extend the midday meal scheme up to the 10th standard. During the National Development Council (NDC) meetings, several requests were made to the Prime Minister to release foodgrains stocked in Haryana and Punjab, but in vain.

The Centre, after much bargaining, agreed to release foodgrains to provide midday meals to children up to the fifth standard. To provide meals to children studying in standards six and seven, the State Government was purchasing foodgrains and other essentials from the market.

Mr. Krishna took a dig at the Janata Parivar for its disunity. During the past 20 years, the people of the State had seen them quarrel whenever they came to power. "When they are out of power, they try to unite for the sake of power," he said. Presently, the Janata Parivar was fragmented into several pieces. "Do you want to hand over the reins of power to them," he asked.

Though the State had gone through drought for the past three years, Mr. Krishna hoped that the good times would return to the State this year.

Earlier, Mr. Shinde said a vote for the Congress would be a vote for a "modern India." Cautioning the people against the BJP, he said the party, which had raised several contentious issues before the elections, compromised on them under pressure from its alliance partners.

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