With just five days to go for the elections in Karnataka, the state Chief Minister and Congress leader Siddaramaiah has raised the stakes. On Monday, ads commissioned by the Congress in major newspapers in the state carried a challenge from Siddaramaiah to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and former CM and BJP’s Chief Ministerial hopeful, BS Yeddyurappa: "Why not debate with facts and let the people of Karnataka decide who is truthful?”
The challenge for the open debate was issued in a note signed by Siddaramaiah. Taking the fight to PM Modi and Yeddyurappa, CM Siddaramaiah pointed out that the Congress government in the state had delivered as promised, and that the BJP was making false accusations against them.
“Sri Modi avare, Sri Yeddyurappa avare, Stop making false accusations, allegations,” the ad said.
"Why not debate with facts and let the people of Karnataka decide who is truthful. In the interest of 6.5 crore Kannidaga’s future, let us have an open debate about our plans for Karnataka before the people of the State,” Siddaramaiah’s note further said.
Throwing the ball in the opposition’s court, the ad said, “I am open to come to any place on the date and time suggested by you both.”
The note was also shared on the CM's social media platforms.
PM Modi is deliberately confusing Karnataka voters with his bombastic speeches on non-issues. All hot air & no substance. My contest is not with him. It is with Yaddyurappa.— Siddaramaiah (@siddaramaiah) May 7, 2018
I challenge him to an open debate on issues on a single platform. Will he accept? Modi is also welcome! pic.twitter.com/34Jl6nIeOE
Speaking to TNM, Siddaramaiah explained that he issued the challenge because BJP was making false allegations. "Let us discuss – what is it they have done in their regime and what is it that we have done as promised? Let us discuss all these things," he said.
He further stated that he did not expect the BJP leaders to take up his challenge. "I don't think they will accept the challenge. They are making false allegations," he said.
Watch part 1 of TNM's interview with Siddaramaiah:
Further on Twitter, Siddaramaiah enumerated five reasons why people should not vote for the BJP – as a precursor to the debate that he has proposed. One of the points said, “BJP has no respect for freedom: freedom to live the life the way people want. Once in power they will impose a dress code, food code, & a code on who you can love. Above all they will impose Hindi over Kannada.”
Let Yaddyurappa give Karnataka 5 reasons why they should vote him. Here are my 5 why they shouldn’t:— Siddaramaiah (@siddaramaiah) May 7, 2018
(Evidence will be prvided at the debate or put out in public domain)
1.BJP ran the most corrupt govt (2008-13) in the history of the state. One CM & 5 Ministers went to jail.
2.BJP ran an unstable govt with 3 CMs in 5 years. MLAs were bought & sold under Operation Kamala. They were herded around from resort to resort. With most surveys giving BJP far less seats than what is need to form Govt, state will be back to the same situation.— Siddaramaiah (@siddaramaiah) May 7, 2018
3.BJP has no respect for freedom: freedom to live the life the way people want. Once in power they will impose a dress code, a food code, & a code on who you can love. Above all they will impose Hindi over Kannada.— Siddaramaiah (@siddaramaiah) May 7, 2018
4.BJP has no commitment to peace. If in power they will unleash communal elements on streets. Incidences like church attack, pub attack will come back. Cow vigilantes will be on streets. This is neither good for life nor for business. With disrupted business jobs will go— Siddaramaiah (@siddaramaiah) May 7, 2018
5.BJP does not keep the promises it makes. At the centre they promised 15 lakhs to every one, jobs & economic growth. In practice they demonetised the economy & killed growth. Their have been anti-farmer, anti-women, anti-youth, anti-Dalit, anti-minorities & anti-business.— Siddaramaiah (@siddaramaiah) May 7, 2018
This is not the first time the CM has challenged PM Modi for an open debate. On May 1, reacting to the Prime Minister's speech in Udupi where he criticised the ruling Congress government for the alleged murders of dozens of BJP activist, Siddaramaiah tweeted, "Crime is not increasing in Karnataka abnormally. PM repeats the lie of increasing crime rate for political purposes. I challenge him for an open debate on a single platform on crime and law and order situation in Karnataka viz-a-viz BJP-ruled states."
Crime is not increasing in Karnataka abnormally. PM repeats the lie of increasing crime rate for political purposes. I challenge him for an open debate on a single platform on crime & law & order situation in Karnataka vis-a-viz BJP ruled states. https://t.co/3t7Gx57mo1— Siddaramaiah (@siddaramaiah) May 1, 2018
He also lashed out at Prime Minister Modi in a press conference in Bengaluru on Sunday for lowering the bar of discourse in the run up to elections in Karnataka.
Watch part 2 of TNM's interview with Siddaramaiah here: