Prime Minister Narendra Modi Tuesday lacerated Telangana's ruling TRS and the Congress for perpetuating "family rule" and pursuing "vote bank" politics that harm development like "termites".
Calling the two parties two sides of the same coin, Modi recalled caretaker Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao's "apprenticeship" with the Congress, and claimed they were playing a "friendly match" in the assembly polls.
He invoked Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel to claim had the political titan not been there Indians would have needed Pakistani visa to visit Hyderabad, the present-day capital of Telangana. Patel was widely credited for the annexation of the princely state of Hyderabad whose Muslim ruler did not want to join the Indian union.
"The chief minister of Telangana and his family think they can get away with doing no work like the Congress.... They have adopted the style of the Congress which ruled for 50-52 years without doing anything. But that cannot happen now," Modi told an election rally in Nizamabad, as he took the poll battle to Rao's turf.
Rao's daughter K Kavitha represents Nizamabad in the Lok Sabha.
"Congress and TRS are two faces of the same coin. Both parties are competing against each other on who tells more lies.
"TRS and Congress are family-ruled parties playing a friendly match in Telangana polls," he said, adding it was a "big joke" that UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Congress president Rahul Gandhi assailed the TRS for being a "family party" at an election rally last week.
Modi sought to appeal to "Telangana pride" when he referred to AIMIM leader Akbaruddin Owaisi's recent remark that whoever became the chief minister of Telangana or undivided Andhra Pradesh had to bow before his party.
"A leader recently said whoever became the CM of Andhra Pradesh-Telangana had to be at his feet (kadmon ke neeche). You fought for Telangana for your self-respect. Will you want a CM who bows at the feet of some leader instead of the people of Telangana?" the prime minister told another rally at Mahbubnagar.
K Chandrasekhar Rao's TRS has friendly ties with AIMIM of Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi.
While accusing Rao of "destroying" Telangana through his government's policies and not fulfilling his promises to people, Modi targeted the Congress for silencing the aspirations of the state for two decades with "bullets".
"Take a pledge in the memory of the martyrs to Telangana's cause...don't let those who fired bullets for two decades (to quell the agitation for separate Telangana). Don't allow them to enter the state. Not one Congress candidate should win. You take this vow for the sake of Telangana martyrs," Modi told the Mahbubnagar rally.
Amid reports that the Congress was preparing a manifesto that would envisage separate schools and hospitals for Muslims, Modi said the only Mantra that the BJP followed was "Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas" and was against vote bank politics.
"BJP has just one Mantra- Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas. We believe in inclusive growth. Vote bank politics has damaged development like termite," he said.
Development, he said, was a casualty wherever vote bank politics and politics of casteism, communalism and nepotism have flourished.
"Both Congress and the TRS are two sides of the same coin. Both indulge in vote bank politics, both do casteist politics. Congress makes brothers fight brothers, Hindus fight Muslims, villages fight towns. TRS does the same thing.
"TRS's talk of (raising) Muslim reservations is vote bank politics which the Congress has been doing for a long time," Modi said.
Referring to the plight of farmers, Modi again invoked Patel to say had the the "son of a farmer" been India's first prime minister the condition of farmers would not have been so bad.
"The Congress and TRS talking about farmers does not suit them. The 70 years of Congress rule and five years of TRS government are responsible for the present plight of farmers," he said, and asked "Naamdaar" (Rahul Gandhi) not to shed "crocodile tears" for agriculturists.
He said Telangana under Rao did not join Ayushman Bharat scheme under which the Centre would bear medical expenses of the poor to the extent of Rs five lakh a year because of his feeling of insecurity.
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"This chief minister feels so insecure...he trusts astrologers, does puja, ties nimbu-mirchi (to ward of evil). So when we introduced Ayushman Bharat Yojana, he decided not to join it. He feared people will reject him if Modicare comes into force. He did injustice to the poor people of the state," Modi said.
Modi noted Rao had once said he would transform Nizamabad into a smart city like London but the place was still grappling with shortage of water, electricity and proper roads.
Rao took strong strong exception to the prime minister's comments, saying "How can you tell such a lie...I challenge you...being in the responsible position of the prime minister you should not lie for the sake of votes."
Addressing an election rally in Mahabubnagar district Rao said, "Mr Narendra Modi, there is no power problem in Telangana....don't lie...I am very sorry to say this. You cannot make false allegations against a chief minister. I am not afraid of anyone...I am not (Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N) Chandrababu Naidu."
The Congress and TRS are "parivarvadi (family-centric) parties engaged in "WWF style wrestling" in Telangana polls, Modi said, suggesting the contest was fake.
Attacking Rao, Modi said,"He got initial training in undivided Andhra Pradesh when he was an apprentice in the Chandrababu Naidu government (as minister). Later he went to Delhi and took apprenticeship in Madam's (Sonia Gandhi's) government (UPA). A person who did apprenticeship under such gurus will definitely destroy Telangana."
The prime minister once again lamented Congress leaders dragging his mother and late father into the electoral discourse, and asked whether elections were fought on such issues.
The prime minister said 40 centrally-sponsored projects worth Over Rs 300 billion were being executed in Telangana.