Modi, Rahul Gandhi exchange barbs during election campaign in Telugu states

HYDERABAD: With just 10 days to go before polling day in Andhra Pradesh and Telagana, the two Telugu states on Monday witnessed hectic political campaigning with both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress president Rahul Gandhi addressing public meetings throughout the day at different places. While Modi attacked AP chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu again with the “U-turn Babu" jibe and also the entire opposition, Gandhi in turn censured the prime minister for failing to fulfill his promises.

Coming down heavily on the ruling-Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in Andhra Pradesh (AP), Modi, during his first meeting at Rajahmundry also alleged that the TDP is using its in-house ‘Seva Mitra’ app to steal citizens data. “The Seva Mitra (TDP’s) app they talk about does not do any seva nor is it a friend, but it steals data from people. Imagine what can be done with it," Modi stated and also alleged that the TDP government is putting its “stickers" on the Centre’s schemes.

Gandhi on the other hand continued his ‘Chowkidaar hi chor hain’ campaign against Modi, and said that the latter “spreads hatred everywhere he goes" and that he is looking to divide the nation. Promising jobs, more educational institutions and scholarships for students, Gandhi reaffirmed that the Congress will give 72,000 per year for five crore poor families if it comes to power.

Later, during his second and final meeting in Hyderabad, Modi also claimed that leaders from the National Conference party said that Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) should have its own prime minister as well. “I was informed about something while coming here, and it is very important. One of the Congress’ important ally, the National Conference, has said that Kashmir should have its own prime minister. Is this demand by the Congress ally acceptable?" he questioned.

The prime minister went on to censure the entire opposition including West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee and NC’s Farooq Abdullah, over the alleged demand by the NC. “The Congress and all grand alliance partners have to answer. But till Modi is there, he will never allow you to sabotage anything," he said.

Both Modi and Gandhi also attacked Telangana chief minister and Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) supremo K. Chadrashekhar Rao. While Gandhi alleged that he is helping the Bharatiya Janata Party, Modi in turn criticized Rao for only being interested in developing his party’s votebank. “We wanted to make the Hyderabad metro like the one in Delhi. But the state government here is not interested," the prime minister claimed during his meeting at Hyderabad.

The Congress president said that Rao supported the Centre to implement the Goods and Services Tax. “Your chief minister helps him (Modi) in Parliament. He brought Gabbar Singh (Goods and Services) tax and finished small businesses and your chief minister says it is very good. The remote control is in Narendra Modi’s hands. Has your chief minister ever said Chowkidaar Chor hain?" questioned Gandhi.

Both Telangana and AP will go to Lok Sabha polls on 11 April in one phase. While assembly elections in the former were held last December, both the state and general elections will be held in Andhra Pradesh together. 

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