In a major offensive against the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party in Karnataka, Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday accused the party of "looting" the state and claimed it would lose the May 5 assembly polls.
Launching the Congress' campaign in Sindhanoor in northern Karnataka, he said BJP broke electoral promises and "the only thing they remembered was how to loot public money in the state. They have done it. They are past masters in this".
Seeking to strike a chord with the public, he tried to make it interactive posing questions on the poll promises made by the BJP and whether they have been fulfilled to which the crowd responded with a vociferous 'no'.
The BJP government had hurt the people and "betrayed" the faith reposed by them, Gandhi told the gathering before whom he apologised for making people wait in the scorching sun. He was about one-and-a-half hours behind schedule.
"... BJP will lose here. We can hear it in Delhi...", Gandhi said, as he commenced his party's poll campaign with a brief speech losing no time in taking on the ruling BJP for "doing nothing but looting the state".
Flaying the government for forgetting its promises of employment, water and 24-hour power supply, he said "last time you made BJP victorious, you trusted them. They promised you 24-hour power supply, did you get it? They promised you employment, did you get it? They forgot employment, power."
Taking a swipe at the BJP for talking about corruption in Delhi, he slammed it for giving "Vidhan Sabha seats to two brothers (mining barons from Bellary Janardhana Reddy and Karunakara Reddy who are facing corruption cases)."
Chiding the BJP government for its alleged role in illegal export of iron ore, Gandhi said, "your iron ore is being sold to China and they (BJP government) are earning crores of Rupees."
"But this (resource) is yours. Steel factories should be established here. It is steel which should go to China. Instead they are looting this (iron ore) to sit in Vidhan Sabha".
He sought to know the BJP government's achievements in the state in the past five years.
Karnataka used to shine in countries like the US and Japan and whenever people used to talk about Bangalore there, it would be about employment opportunities here, Gandhi said.
But in the past five years, "the BJP government has made Karnataka lose its shine. It is your sweat and blood, the hard work of the farmers and the youth which made Karnataka shine. Whenever a state moves forward, it is through the people".
Gandhi said his party will not make big promises but will restore the faith of the people. "We will fight your battle, battle for employment".
He said while the Congress ensured employment through the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, "they (BJP) closed MNREGA here".
Gandhi said "after polls, the Congress will focus on development. Unlike the BJP's false promises about 24-hour power supply, we will give three-phase power supply for eight hours. We will give water to the farmers and take up Rs 10,000 crore worth irrigation works in the Krishna basin".
He promised to make state a "forerunner... your money, public money will be in your hands once again". "It is not a government of the rich that will be formed in Karnataka. It will be people's government, government of the common man."