In a scathing attack, Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Thursday dared Prime Minister Narendra Modi to clarify why the BJP gave tickets to Karnataka's tainted Reddy brothers to contest in the May 12 assembly elections.
"Modi, who talks about fighting corruption, must explain to the people why he is supporting the corrupt Reddy brothers by giving ticket to contest in the state assembly polls," said Gandhi at a public meeting in the coastal town of Bhatkal.
The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) selected G. Karunakara Reddy and G. Somashekar Reddy, elder and younger brothers of the mining scam-tainted G. Janardhan Reddy, to contest from Harpanahalli and Ballari seats in the Ballari district.
The party has also fielded Lallesh Reddy, nephew of the Reddy brothers, from the BTM Layout segment in Bengaluru against state Home Minister Ramalinga Reddy of the ruling Congress.
Accusing Modi of allegedly changing the country's premier investigation agency CBI to "Central Bureau of Illegal Mining", Gandhi charged the Prime Minister with supporting the Reddy family in the state.
"We want the people of Karnataka to be a part of the government and not of the Reddy brothers. Why is Modi supporting and protecting the corrupt? We will never allow them to loot the state," he said.
Janardhan Reddy was arrested and jailed for about two years after the state's Lokayukta named him in the multi-crore iron ore mining scam in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh for about a decade (2001-10).
Gandhi also accused Modi of allegedly writing off the loans of rich industrialists but being indifferent to farmers.
"When I had asked Chief Minister Siddaramaiah to help farmers, he immediately waived off Rs 8,000 crore worth of loans," he added.
Gandhi, who is on a two-day visit to the poll-bound southern state starting Thursday, launched the ruling party's campaign for the elections in the coastal region.
He will release the party's election manifesto in the port city of Mangaluru on Friday, along with senior leaders like Karnataka in-charge K.C. Venugopal and Chief Minister Siddaramaiah.