Prime Minister Narendra Modi is "possessed by the devil" of Congress-mukt Bharat, and his only accomplishment in the last four years is to have undone the good work of the previous Congress governments, United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi said on Tuesday.
Holding her first election rally in two years, Gandhi said all sections of society were facing problems, and questioned Modi on his "favorite promise" of ending corruption.
"Modi ji is proud that he can make speeches well. I agree he is a good orator. He speaks like an actor. If speeches could fill the country's stomach, I wish he gave more speeches," she said, taking a swipe at the prime minister.
Gandhi never campaigned in an election after she was suddenly taken ill during a road show in Varanasi ahead of the Uttar Pradesh assembly polls.
Her election rally was seen as an attempt to give a cutting edge to the blitzkrieg launched by his son and Congress president Rahul Gandhi to retain power in Karnataka, the only major state their party rules apart from Punjab.
With the UPA chairperson set to address a rally in Vijayapura hours after him, Modi had taken a dig at Rahul Gandhi, saying even leaders in his party doubted his ability to steer the Congress to victory in Karnataka.
"Even Congress leaders have begun to feel that the son would not be able to help the party win Karnataka. I saw a Congress leader's interview. So, send the mother to ensure its candidates can at least save their security deposits," Modi said.
Sonia Gandhi's rally in Vijayapura in north Karnataka, where Lingayats wield considerable electoral influence, was also seen as an attempt to reach out to the community, which has traditionally backed the Bharatiya Janata Party.
The BJP, seeking to have a shot at forming its govenment in the only southern state where its has been in power, has projected Lingayat strongman B S Yeddyurappa as its chief ministerial candidate.
In her speech, Sonia Gandhi said, "Modi ji has junoon (passion) of Congress mukt bharat. He is possessed by the devil of Congress mukt bharat (Congress mukht bharat ka bhoot laga hai).
"Let alone Congress mukt bharat, he cannot tolerate (bardasht) anyone standing in front of him. The country is surprised that wherever he goes he speaks wrong. He distorts history, and for his political selfishness he uses our great freedom fighters as pawns on the chess board," she said.
Sonia said the language used by Modi does not behove a person holding the high office.
She said while the prime minister kept on speaking on verious subjects, he avoided talking about "real issues".
"Which promise you made to people four years ago has been fulfilled? Tell what have you done for the country's farmers? What has Modi ji done to provide employment to youth? What has he done for the middle class, women, girls, Dalits and backward classes?"
Taking on the prime minister over steps to tackle corruption, she wanted to know why the Lokpal, the proposed anti-graft ombudsman, had not been constituted.
"What happened to your favorite promise of ending corruption? Four years have gone by but you didn't bring Lokpal. What is your model to end corruption, Modi ji?"
Alleging that several ministers in the erstwhile Yeddyurappa government faced charges of corruption, she asked Modi whether he will follow their model or that of the "son of your close associate", an apparent reference to BJP chief Amit Shah's son Jay.
The Congress has been raking up the issue of Jay, the turnover of whose company was alleged to have shot up sharply after Modi came to power.
Sonia alleged the Congress-ruled Karnataka was being discriminated against.
She claimed while thousands of crores of rupees were extended by way of assistance to other drought-hit states, the Modi government "rubbed salt to the wounds" of farmers of Karnataka by giving "too little".
Sonia claimed Modi even refused to meet chief minister Siddaramaiah who wanted to discuss with him the problems of farmers. This, she said, was an insult to not only the chief minister but also the farmers of Karnataka and their families.
"Modi ji, is this your sab ka saath, sab ka vikas? (together will all, development of all)," she asked.
Gandhi said Modi came to Karnataka for election, made new "hollow promises and left after spreading hatred".
She asked voters to reject the BJP's "politics of hatred and jumlas (rhetoric)".