At rallies on Day Two of their padayatra to Bellary, party leaders were heard making virulent attack against the BJP, taking them on not only illegal mining, but also other issues.
With their feet bruised and faces sun-burnt, the Congress leaders walked 16 km from Dasanapura to T Begur off Bangalore-Tumkur Road on the second day. Lunch was at Nelamangala. On Day Three, they have set themselves the task of reaching Dobbbespet, 20 km from Begur.
The main speakers at the rallies raised many issues other than illegal mining to whip up emotions among the public against the ruling BJP. In the rally at Nelamangala, Siddaramaiah, who leads the padayatra, termed the Yeddyurappa Cabinet “a gang of thieves” akin to characters of popular folk tale Alibaba and his forty thieves. The ministers had been engaged in looting, he alleged.
Entering into a dialogue with the residents of Nelamangala, Siddaramaiah asked, “Just tell me if anyone in the town got a Ashraya site in the last two years?” He said he would stop making allegations against the Chief Minister if at least one individual in the town had got a site. There was no response from the crowd.
The next shot he fired was on the poor progress in house construction to rehabilitate the flood victims in North Karnataka. Then came non-implementation of the BJP’s election manifesto. The saffron party had assured the voters rice at Rs two a kg. But the promise remained unfulfilled even two years of the BJP rule, he pointed out.
Later, he touched his favourite subject - the finances of the State. He compared his performance as finance minister in 2003-04 to that of Yeddyurappa’s. The total debt now was Rs 89,000 crore, from Rs 39,000 crore during his time. Then came the clincher.
“We are going before the people’s court seeking justice against the misdeeds of the BJP. We appeal to the public to move away from the BJP and support the Congress,” he said.
Alleging that the BJP had failed on all fronts, KPCC President R V Deshpande tried to reprise Mahatma Gandhi’s ‘Quit India’ slogan against the British, asking the BJP to quit Karnataka.
However, the cause of the padayatra was not sidelined. Siddaramaiah and R V Deshpande justified their demand for a CBI inquiry into illegal mining. Siddaramaiah alleged the Chief Minister had played a major role in illegal mining that resulted in loss to the exchequer and loot of natural resources.
Although the leaders are making spirited speeches, there has been a decline in the number of Congress legislators taking part in the walk. Around 40 legislators were in the march which was double on Sunday.