Ahead of the assembly elections, Karnataka's BJP unit filed a complaint with the Election Commission against Congress President Mallikarjin Kharge's son and MLA Priyank Kharge over his 'Nalayak' remarks about PM Modi.
What did Priyank say?
Priyank Kharge on Monday termed PM Modi a 'nalayak' which drew the ire of BJP brass while Congress asserted that such a remark was never made by him.
Priyank, seeking reelection from Chittapur in Kalaburagi district said Modi claiming to be a son of the Banjara community and promising to take care of them was "inept" because he and his party had created confusion about reservations for the SC community.
His remark comes days after Mallikarjun Kharge's "venomous snake" barb aimed at PM Modi.
Mallikarjun Kharge stoutly defended his son and said he never made such comments. The Congress president said: "No. No. It is very wrong. He never said it. Don't put these words into his mouth. He attacked the parliament member (not Modi) who abused him. So, don't put these words into his mouth (saying it was meant) for Modi. I am sorry, everywhere this is going on (misquoting) purposely. Morning he (Priyank) condemned it but still you people are asking."
Priyank, addressing a poll gathering quoted from Modi's speech and said: "When you (PM Modi) came to Gulbarga (Kalaburagi) what did you tell the people of Banjara community? "Aap sab log dariye mat. Banjara ka ek beta Dilli mein Baitha hai (You do not be afraid. A son of Banjara is sitting in Delhi)."
"Aisa nalayak beta baitha to kaise hota bhai? Ghar kaise chalega?” (If an inept son is sitting in Delhi, how can you run the family?), he asked.
Priyank further said though Modi claimed to be the son of the Banjara community, confusion was created on reservation by the BJP regime in Karnataka.
"Didn’t injustice happen to the Banjara community? Why were stones thrown at Yediyurappa’s house in Shikaripura (in Shivamogga district)? Why Bandh was observed in Kalaburagi and Jewargi? Today there is confusion in the reservation," the Congress leader claimed.
Priyank, who had been a minister in the Siddaramaiah government said, "The Prime Minister during his earlier visit said he was a son of the Koli community and the Kabbaliga and Kuruba communities. Today he calls himself a son of the Banjara community."
At the fag end of its term, the BJP government passed a bill to increase the reservation for the Scheduled Castes from 15 per cent to 17 per cent and provide for internal quota for SC communities. It led to a furore among sections of people like Banjaras who feared that their share in the quota pie would get reduced due to internal reservation. The BJP has said time and again that the quota has only been increased and blamed the Congress for misinformation campaign.
How did BJP respond?
BJP president J P Nadda said opposition leaders have been using such language against the Prime Minister to "please" their masters, a reference to Sonia and Rahul Gandhi.
Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said: "In a state of despair of losing the election, he (Priyank) has forgotten his limits. A few days ago, his father withdrew his words. Now, it's his turn. People will teach them a lesson."
Speaking to reporters, Nadda said the Congress is going through "mental bankruptcy" and its leaders have been following the Gandhi family in using derogatory language against the Prime Minister. "They are doing so to please their senior leaders."
The BJP president claimed the Congress has already lost the election in the southern state and that is why "venom" is coming out from its' leaders who are in "frustration".
People do not approve of such language and their love for the Prime Minister has been growing, he said.
BJP IT department head Amit Malviya took a swipe at Priyank Kharge, asking what would he be doing if he was not the son of Mallikarjun Kharge, the Congress president?
"It is anybody's guess! It is quite rich for someone who is feeding off his father's name, to call a democratically elected PM 'nalayak'. It is fine to disagree with the PM, criticise him, but calling him names shows a depraved mind. Junior Kharge should focus on defending his seat and not punch above his weight," he tweeted.
(With PTI Inputs)