In the last leg of his Rajasthan campaign, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday brought back his 'naamdar' jibe against Congress president Rahul Gandhi to ask the Opposition party from where it got its expertise on the religion.
"Naamdar (Rahul) is now saying that Modi does not have any knowledge of Hinduism. Will there be voting on this issue in Rajasthan? Should Rajasthan vote for electricity, water, road or on Modi's knowledge of Hinduism?" Modi asked during a rally in Jodhpur. Modi's rebuttal came two days after Rahul claimed that Modi did not understand the foundation of Hinduism.
He further said, "When it was your government at the Centre, when Madam (Sonia Gandhi) was ruling by remote control, then the Congress-led UPA government had said in the Supreme Court that Lord Ram was a fictional character."
In September 2007, after a controversy, the UPA government withdrew from the apex court its two affidavits, including the controversial one filed by the ASI claiming there was no historical or scientific evidence to establish the existence of Lord Ram and Rama Setu as a man-made bridge.
"People of the Congress believe that the talking about development is useless... The Congress has become a university for spreading lies in which a new entrant is first made to study on PhD of lies. The student who scores the highest in speaking lies is awarded with a new position and title."
Rahul, he asserted, has great capacity for speaking lies. "The Congress' dreams have been crushed in all states. This will happen in Rajasthan also," he said.
Modi also attacked Congress on former prime minister Jawaharhal Nehru's opposition to the reconstruction of Somnath Temple. "I want to ask this to the Hindutva wisemen: When Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel had taken a pledge to rebuild Somnath temple, then what country did the first prime minister adopt in relation to the Somnath temple? He (Nehru) objected to then president Rajendra Prasad's visit for the consecration of Somnath temple, which was destroyed by foreign invaders and renovated by Patel."
In an indirect reference to Nehru, Modi said the leader who wore a rose knew about gardens but not farmers or farming. "He (Nehru) used to wear rose and had the knowledge of gardens but did not know about farmers or farming, due to which the community faced hardship," Modi said.
He further claimed that Rahul kept aside Mahatma Gandhi and his dream of cleanliness because "he knew that if the people remembered fakir Gandhi, then who will remember naamdar Gandhi".
Modi then targeted the erstwhile UPA government. "They had made a talisman of the Congress. Those who did wrong, looted the government treasury, stole money from the banks, they did not need to do anything. They would tie their Congress talisman and would get a protective shield," he said.
The prime minister claimed that tourism in Rajasthan gained momentum only because of BJP's efforts. "If India had emphasised on tourism from the beginning, the characteristics of India, those features, if we had proudly presented it to the world, then we were at the number one tourism in the world. When the Congress party was in power, the development of tourism in our country did not go above four to five percent. Today, I can proudly say that tourism growth in India has reached 10 to 15 percent," he said.
The Opposition party thinks it can come to power because of the trend in Rajasthan of alternate parties forming government, but this will be proved wrong in the upcoming state elections, Modi declared.
Modi, BJP president Amit Shah, and Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath were in Rajasthan on Monday, with just a few days left for the state to go to polls.
Although it is not surprising to see the Congress and the saffron party exchange barbs on the topic of religion, the debate has intensified this election season especially after Rahul revealed his gotra (clan) last week.
A priest at the Pushkar lake in Rajasthan who performed a puja for Rahul had said that the Congress chief's gotra was 'Duttatreya' and he is a Kashmiri Brahmin.
Some BJP leaders challenged the "claim", reminding that Gandhi's paternal grandfather was a Parsi, not a Hindu with a "gotra". Uttar Pradesh BJP chief Mahendra Nath Pandey coined a new "gotra" for Rahul and called it "gotra Itlus”, mocking his Italian lineage through his mother and party leader Sonia Gandhi.
Adityanath had then said that it was an ideological victory "for our politics". "Rahul Gandhi’s great-grandfather used to say that he is an Hindu accidentally and a person from his fourth generation is saying today that I am from this gotra. Friends, this is not only an ideological victory for our politics but also shows that the Hindu is eternal and the truth," he was quoted as saying by The Indian Express.
Following Rahul's remarks on Modi's understanding of Hinduism, Amit Shah hit back, and said, "The Congress is now preaching to us about Hinduism... They are giving us lessons of the Gita."
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj also reacted sharply saying she wishes the day won't come when people have to learn the meaning of Hinduism from Rahul.
Sushma Swaraj: Rahul Gandhi said PM doesn't know meaning of being a Hindu. He said that because he&Congress are confused about his religion& caste. For yrs, party presented him as secualr leader but near polls when they realised that Hindus are in majority,they created this image pic.twitter.com/0gknII5jsv
— ANI (@ANI) December 1, 2018
"Earlier, he had stated that he is a janeudhari Brahmin. But I did not know that there has been such an increase in the janeudhari Brahmin's knowledge that we have to learn the meaning of being Hindu from him," she said.
Union ministers Rajnath Singh and Smriti Irani also hit out at the Congress on Sunday. Irani said that it was strange that the party which had raised a question on Lord Ram's existence was talking about Hindu and Hinduism. “Where was the Hindu in Rahul Gandhi when Congress had submitted an affidavit that Lord Ram does not exist?” she asked?
Meanwhile, Rajnath said, “What will they talk about Hindu and Hinduism? They have called Lord Ram a fictional character in the affidavit submitted in Supreme Court in Ram Setu case in 2007."
With inputs from agencies
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Updated Date: Dec 03, 2018 17:45:05 IST