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Mud-slinging by parties mars `big fight'

By Our Staff Correspondent

MYSORE, MARCH 17. It was billed as "the big fight" on a small scale as the leaders of three main political parties came together on a common platform to make known the stand of their party on various issues. The result, however, was that each political party ended up blaming the other two for the ills plaguing society.

The occasion was an interaction programme with the presidents of the city unit of the Congress, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and the Janata Dal (Secular) organised by the Mysore District Journalists' Association here on Wednesday.

The BJP city unit President, H.S. Shankarlinge Gowda, set the ball rolling by promising that poverty and unemployment would be eliminated and illiteracy eradicated if the BJP came to power. He criticised the Congress for what he described as 50 years of misrule. He concluded by predicting that the BJP would come to power in Karnataka by winning 135 seats in the coming Assembly elections. However, he was silent on local issues.

The Janata Dal (S) city unit President and former Mayor, Ananthu, focused on the problems facing the city. He touched upon the drinking water scarcity, promised to streamline the revenue collection system of the Mysore City Corporation, and ensure transparency in the allotment of Ashraya houses to the poor. He said the public distribution system (PDS) would be strengthened, and the distribution of ration cards to the poor would be expedited.

Mr. Ananthu promised that the Janata Dal (S) would accord top priority to redress the grievances of farmers. He dubbed the BJP and the Congress as the two sides of the same coin, and held the Centre and the State Government responsible for the predicament of the farmers.

G. Made Gowda, his counterpart in the Congress, spoke about the historical legacy of the party and its commitment to the nation.

He said the Congress had declared a war on poverty and illiteracy to put India on the path of growth and development.

He said the Congress was behind the Stree Shakti scheme which had benefited women, and said more than 400 Stree Shakti groups had been set up in Mysore city. The Akshara Dasoha scheme had reduced the dropout rate in schools and ushered in a social revolution.

The Congress, Mr. Made Gowda said, was responsible for restoring five lakes in the city, construction of the outer ring road, reviving parks in Mysore, and launching of the Nirmala Nagar Yojane. It had also initiated the process of conserving and developing Mysore into a heritage city, he added.

When Mr. Made Gowda and Mr. Shankarlinge Gowda were questioned as to who was responsible for the spiralling death of farmers, the two leaders took a dig at the rival party. "It is the BJP which is at the helm of affairs at the Centre and that party is responsible for the suicide by farmers," Mr. Made Gowda said while Mr. Shankarlinge Gowda retorted, "Congress is ruling the State and is responsible for what has happened in Karnataka."

When asked as to how the Congress could be held responsible for the death of farmers in the rest of the country where the BJP or its allies were in power, Mr. Shankarlinge Gowda said: "Death is inevitable. But not all farmers' deaths can be linked to bad debts or policies of the Government."

Mr. Ananthu came down heavily on the two parties holding them collectively responsible for the distress faced by farmers.

The next issue pertained to online lottery and the alleged reluctance of the Congress to abolish it. Both Mr. Shankarlinge Gowda and Mr. Ananthu seized the opportunity and criticised the Congress while Mr. Made Gowda said the State Government alone could not abolish online lottery but the Centre should take the initiative.

But the three leaders toed the same line only on one issue.

When they were cornered on the issue of defection plaguing all political parties, they said the doors of their respective party were open to anyone who believed in their ideology.

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