Jaipur: As Karnataka went to the polls Wednesday, two references from the state’s election campaign surfaced at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rally in far-off Rajasthan’s Abu Road – Bajrang Bali and the evacuation from Sudan of Hakki Pikki tribals.
Before Modi began his speech, former MLA Madan Rathore and other local BJP leaders presented a small idol of Lord Hanuman to him.
Later, a part of the prime minister’s speech went into lambasting the Congress over the row triggered by former Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah, who alleged that the BJP government at the Centre was not doing enough to bring back people belonging to the state’s Hakki Pikki tribe who were stuck in Sudan.
The Bajrang Bali row erupted in Karnataka when the Congress released its manifesto, which suggested that if the party comes to power it will ban outfits like the right-wing Bajrang Dal.
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The BJP latched onto the issue to portray the Congress as being against Lord Hanuman and by extension — against Hindus. At his rallies in Karnataka, Modi likened the proposal to locking up Lord Hanuman himself.
On Wednesday, Modi accused the Karnataka Congress of endangering the lives of the Hakki Pikki tribals. He said the Congress exposed the identity of the people from the tribe and put their lives at risk. He alleged Congress leaders thought if an Indian stuck in Sudan gets hurt by bullets, the party could ”grab Modi’s collar” and play politics in Karnataka.
”The BJP government was trying to get them out of Sudan but the Congress started making noise here. We had to bring them out quietly but the Congressmen made their faces public and by making such mistakes, they put the lives of these people in danger,” the prime minister said.
”But the Congress forgot one thing. I think the Congress has not understood Modi yet. Congress people should know this is Modi, who can cross any limit to protect every single Indian who is in trouble,” he said.
About 200 members of the tribal community from Karnataka were reportedly stuck in Sudan, when deadly fighting broke out between the country’s army and a paramilitary group last month. India launched Operation Kaveri to rescue its citizens and gradually began evacuating them via several transit points.
On April 18, Siddaramaiah tweeted about 31 members from the Hakki Pikki tribe stuck in Sudan. He tagged the prime minister in the tweet, urging him to bring the tribal community members to India safely.
”Hakki Pikkis in Sudan are left stranded without food since the last few days & the govt is yet to initiate action to bring them back. @BJP4India govt should immediately open diplomatic discussions & reach out to international agencies to ensure the well-being of Hakki Pikkis,” the Congress leader said in the tweet.
Responding to him, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said, ”Simply appalled at your tweet! There are lives at stake; don’t do politics. Since the fighting started on April 14th, the Embassy of India in Khartoum has been continuously in touch with most Indian nationals and PIOs in Sudan.” Polling for the 224-member Karnataka Legislative Assembly concluded on Wednesday and the results will be announced on May 13.
During his day-long visit to Rajasthan, the prime minister also visited Nathdwara and launched various development projects.