Rahul Gandhi calls Narendra Modi 'darpok', challenges him to 5-minute debate on Rafale and national security

New Delhi: Mounting a fresh offensive on Narendra Modi, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi on Thursday called the prime minister a "darpok" (coward) and dared him to a five minute face-to-face debate on issues such as the controversial Rafale jet deal and national security.

Addressing the Congress' minority department convention in New Delhi, a combative Rahul also alleged that the RSS was trying to capture the institutions of the country and said his party's governments in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhatisgarh will remove the organisation's loyalists from the system.

In his speech covering a range of topics, Rahul lashed out at Modi for his China policy, saying the prime minister flew to the country and held a summit without an agenda while Beijing sent its army to Doka La, a reference to the China-India border standoff in 2017.

Modi folded his hands before China, the Congress chief claimed, adding that China realised within two months that "leave alone 56 inches, he doesn't even have a four-inch chest".

Rahul Gandhi calls Narendra Modi darpok, challenges him to 5-minute debate on Rafale and national security

File image of Congress president Rahul Gandhi. PTI

"I know his (Modi) character after fighting him for five years... I say to BJP leaders... make Narendra Modi stand with me on stage for five minutes and debate on national security, Rafale," Gandhi said in his speech in Hindi.

"I want to say he is a darpok (coward). I have recognised him. He gets scared when he faces someone who says 'I will not back off', and he backs off," the Congress president said, walking away dramatically from the microphone for visual effect, eliciting applause from Congress workers.

In a speech laced with sarcasm, Rahul did not spare Hindutva ideologue VD Savarkar, and mocked him for allegedly taking instructions from the British.

He urged his party's workers to face the RSS, the BJP, and Modi with all their might. If Congress workers stand together, they (RSS, BJP, Modi) will run away as "they are cowards", he added.

The Congress chief said fear was writ large on Modi's face and asserted that those who spread hatred will be defeated.

Declaring that the "image of Narendra Modi is finished", Rahul said, "He now knows one can't rule India by dividing people."

The Congress chief alleged that the RSS was attempting to capture the country's institutions, from the judiciary to the Election Commission. "We have not merely formed governments in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh... We will ensure that RSS people put in institutions in these states are removed," he said.

Rahul claimed that Madhya Pradesh chief minister Kamal Nath informed him that there was a special ministry in the state under the BJP rule to which Rs 800 crore were given and it was full of RSS people.

"The bureaucracy of these states (Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and Rajasthan) should know and India's bureaucracy should know that you are not RSS' bureaucracy, but India's bureaucracy," the Congress chief said.

He asserted that irrespective of language, religion, and caste, the Congress will always protect all Indians. The aim of the RSS is to set aside the Constitution and run the country from Nagpur, he alleged.

"The RSS puts its people in the judicial system, in the Election Commission. If the CBI chief wants to probe Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he is set aside and an RSS person is put in his place. Their aim is to finish all institutions in the country," Rahul alleged.

He also alleged that Modi was the face but the government was being run by RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat.

"With Narendra Modi as the prime minister, four Supreme Court judges came out and said that they were not being allowed to work. In the same sentence, they took CBI judge BH Loya's name and indirectly said that BJP president Amit Shah is not allowing the Supreme Court to do its work," Rahule said, referring to the death of Loya, who was hearing the Sohrabuddin Sheikh case and died in Nagpur on 1 December, 2014.

The RSS and the BJP think that they are above India, but in three months, the country will make them understand that it is not so, he said.

He alleged Modi snatched the Rafale contract from Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and helped Anil Ambani to make a profit of Rs 30,000 crore.

The government, as well as Anil Ambani, have strongly denied any wrongdoing in the fighter jet agreement with France.

"Do you accept that five years ago Modi's reputation was very good? Do you accept that today Narendra Modi is a thief? He can't even speak openly," Rahul said.

He alleged that Modi gave Rs 3.5 lakh crore to 15 industrialists during his tenure. "I asked the team framing the Congress manifesto to give something that shakes up the country. I asked them to give me something that I could offer loudly and change the mood of the people," he said of his party's minimum income promise for the poor.

The minimum income amount will be deposited in the bank accounts of the poor across the country by the Congress, he said.

"If Modiji can give lakhs of crores of rupees to 15 individuals, we can also put money in the pocket of the poor people," he said.

This decision will be first of its kind in the world, where a big country like India will directly transfer money in the accounts of poor people, Rahul said, adding that this will eradicate poverty.

He again brought up the Rafale deal while talking to reporters after his meeting with the party's general secretaries.

"The prime minister has helped steal Rs 30,000 crore from the defense forces and handed it to Anil Ambani and he has done it personally. Please remember what I have said. He has done it personally," he alleged.

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Updated Date: Feb 08, 2019 08:34:30 IST

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