Bengaluru: With assembly elections in Karnataka less than two months away, BJP chief Amit Shah kept his focus tight on the state's farmers, saying there were fewer farmer suicides in states ruled by his party than those ruled by the Congress. Moreover, the cases reported in BJP-ruled states, he said, were the results of "depression and personal issues".
Calling Karnataka government responsible for the crisis the farmers are facing, Mr Shah pointed to Chief Minister Siddaramaiah's "Rs 40-lakh watch". The Chief Minster, he said, was the only socialist leader to wear such an expensive watch and it was the "evidence of his corruption".
The BJP chief has already predicted a "tsunami" of support for the party in Karnataka, which it hopes, will prove its gateway to the south. Karnataka is the only southern state the party ruled and it has launched an aggressive campaign to return to power.
"There has been BJP government in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh for the last 15 years and farmer suicide numbers in these states have been very low," Mr Shah said while speaking at Karnataka's Davanagere.
Citing the case of Maharashtra, he said the state's BJP government was a "farmer friendly" government. "Farmer suicides have reduced after BJP came to power in the state," he said. The "farmer-friendly" schemes launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi have been "crucial for ensuring a better future for farmers," he said.
Mr Shah, who started his two-day visit in the state yesterday seeking blessings Sri Shivakumara Swami -- a seer of the Lingayat community at Siddhaganga Muttin Tumkaru -- also invoked the controversy over the community's minority status. The Congress government of Mr Siddaramaiah plans to give religious minority status to the community, which is largely seen as loyal to the BJP. The lingayat community has objected to the move - which will make them eligible for a number of advantages in the field of education - calling it divisive.
Calling it the "divide-and-rule policy" of the Congress, Mr Shah said while PM Modi is doing all he can to "make India united, to ensure that Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, and all other communities are equal and united", the Congress and Mr Siddaramaiah were "trying to divide even the Hindus".