Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy on Saturday said he was “amused” at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “clerk” comment referring to him and clarified that he had never made such a statement.
“I am amused to see Hon’ble Prime Minister @narendramodi reacting to a statement which I never made. After farmers loan this is the second time he is reacting to false information/statement. Such statements won’t deter our coalition government from the development agenda,” Mr Kumaraswamy said in a tweet.
The “farmers” loan” was a reference to PM Modi’s statement at a rally in Ghazipur in Uttar Pradesh in December 29 last year that Congress promised loan waivers to lakhs of farmers, but the JD(S)-Congress coalition in Karnataka did not deliver.
“Lollipops” were handed out. The loan waiver was given to only 800 farmers, PM Modi had claimed.
Addressing the BJP’s National Convention in New Delhi Saturday, PM Modi referred to a reported statement of Mr Kumaraswamy about functioning like a clerk.
“In Karnataka, where there is a coalition government,what is the Chief Minister there saying? Karnataka Chief Minister, who is the Chief Minister of a coalition government… It has been a just few months, but he is worried so much that he is saying that instead of (being treated as) Chief Minister, he is being treated like a clerk,” PM Modi said.
According to some media reports, Mr Kumaraswamy, during the recent meeting with party legislators, had told them that he was working under pressure.
The reports had also quoted the Chief Minister as having told them that he was functioning like a clerk and accusing the JDS coalition partner Congress of interference.
Mr Kumaraswamy had on Thursday rubbished the media reports, terming them as “speculative” and “imaginary”.
Reacting to the Prime Minister’s comments, JD(S) supremo and former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda asked, “Will he praise the coalition government and not criticise?”
“No one should speak lightly about anybody. I don’t have the practise of talking lightly about anyone. I don’t want its advantage also”, he said.
The state Congress too has hit back at PM Modi, calling him a “leader of failures”.
“Respected Narendra Modi, you have called the Chief Minister of a democratically elected government a clerk. You, a leader of failures, lord of lies, have diminished the position of Prime Minister,” Karnataka Congress said in a tweet in Kannada.
It attacked the Prime Minister for not coming to Parliament and responding to the charges against him.
Noting that the matter was something between Congress and JD(S), the coalition coordination committee chief and former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah asked what Modi has to do with it.
He said “Modi doesn’t know anything…he is trying to instigate…”
Karnataka BJP leaders Prahlad Joshi and Jagadish Shettar defended Modi”s remark, saying that he was only quoting Mr Kumaraswamy.