By K Narayanaswamy
Bengaluru, May 2: Prime Minister Narendra Modi's first election campaign for Karnataka assembly was expected to be high voltage, and full of power. There was anticipation that the PM's speeches would give the Karnataka BJP a shot in the arm. Though local, state and national media gave wide coverage as expected to his visit to the state, his failure to pack enough punch remained the talking point for political pundits on media chat shows.
With his powerful oratory, he tore apart Congress into pieces throughout his speeches in all the three rallies he addressed on Tuesday, May 1. But he perhaps did not expect that he would score self-goals and give fodder to hungry CM Siddaramaiah who waiting to retaliate by giving Modi a dose of his own medicine.
His rallies started at Chamarajnagar, Mysuru first, which is largely known as a stronghold of Congress and JD(S). The BJP team was highly successful in mobilising the huge crowd for the rally, but his speech was the only discussion point for the TV channels and for some audience who were present at the ground as well as the TV audience. According to eyewitnesses of the rally, a large number of people had to depend on the translation of Modi's speech, over which Modi himself was not comfortable.
Realising the reduced effect of his powerful speech, he dropped the idea of translation in his next rally in Udupi where nearly 50,000 BJP workers from around Udupi and other coastal districts gathered to listen to him, and also in Chikkodi later in the day. The response to his speech was relatively instant in Udupi, but Chikkodi had the same language problem again.
But the overall effect of the first day of PM Modi's election campaign is far less than the BJP anticipated, and the reason is much more than just language barrier.
The man responsible for spoiling the spirited election tour of Modi was CM Siddaramaiah and his online army. They have not left a single stone unturned to attack Modi in a witty and gutsy style.
Here are some real-time rebuttals from Congress on Twitter and other forms:
1. Modi criticised Siddaramaiah for running away from Chamundeshwari to save his face, and contesting from Badami as he 'feared losing'. The CM's reply:
Siddaramaiah also had a witty response for PM Modi's 2+1 jibe. Modi's '2+1 formula' referred to two seats Siddaramaiah was contesting from, and one seat of his son Dr Yathindra. However, Siddarmaiah used this formula to his advantage, turning it into '2 Reddys + 1 Yeddy' formula for the BJP.
2. Modi ridiculed Rahul Gandhi and reminded how he was struggling to pronounce the word 'Visvesvaraya' during his election rally last month. Modi scored a self-goal when he struggled to pronouce Kannada word in his own speech, and the CM wasted no time to attack him on twitter:
3. Modi praised former H D Deve Gowda in Udupi rally. Interestingly he ignored Gowda in Mysuru rally where JD(S) is much stronger, and prefered to praise him Udupi rally where JD(S) is irrelevant. This move of Modi is widely discussed as an attempt by him to woo Vokkaliga votes where JD(S) presence is weaker than BJP's. But the CM's rebuttal was ready:
4. In Udupi, the PM said, while his government was engaged in 'ease of doing business', Karnataka govt was promoting 'ease of doing murders'. The CM's retaliation was as below:
5. End of the first day of PM's campaign, the CM tweeted what Modi said in his Karnataka visit and what he did not say:
"PM @narendramodi is in Karnataka & has nothing substantial to offer. Instead, he dwells eloquently on non-issues:
1 Rahul Gandhi’s Kannada pronunciation while mauling Mante Swamy & Male Madeshwara out of shape.
2 Rahul Gandhi’s dress vs his dresses
3 My contest from 2 places.
4 Something about Namdar & Kaamdar
5 Electrification of 39 villages in 3 years whereas we had already electrified 27,000 villages
6 My sleep apnea that used to induce occasional daytime sleepiness. (Now I have treated it but like a common troll, he makes fun of my condition.)
What he did not say:
1 Why is he supporting the mining mafia led by Janardhana Reddy?
2 Why is he not helping us resolve Mahadayi issue?
3 Why is not giving a debt relief package to farmers when Banks can waive 2.71 lakh Cr. of corporate loans?
4 Why are petrol prices rising?
5 Why did he cheat HAL of the Rafael deal that would have created thousands of jobs in Bengaluru.
6 When will he restore confidence in our Banking system by catching Nirav Modi?
The list of what PM could have spoken is endless. But Shri Modi has to dwell on the trivial," he tweeted.
6. Lastly, Siddaramaiah had a tongue-in-cheek reply to Modi's challenge to Rahul Gandhi to speak in any language of his choice for 15 minutes on the achievements of the Karnataka Congress government without looking at paper:
It will be interesting to see, what kind of war of words await in Modi's next leg of Karnataka campaign ahead of the elections.