AMBIKAPUR — Returning the Congress's "a chaiwala could become prime minister due to Nehru" barb, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday dared it to make someone "from outside the family" as its chief for him to believe the late leader created a true democratic system.
Modi also charged the Gandhis with still not being able to come to terms that a "son of a poor mother" could become the country's prime minister.
Addressing a campaign rally for the second phase of Chhattisgarh Assembly elections, Modi slammed the opposition party for crediting his occupying the prime minister's post to Nehru instead of people in the country.
He also hit back at the Congress also for questioning demonetisation, saying the move "still rankles" them as the money "stashed under beds and in sacks" was taken away in a single stroke.
He asked Congress to give account of what the four generations of the (Gandhi) family did for the nation.
Congress leader Shashi Tharoor had said it was due to the institutional structure created by Nehru that even a "chaiwala" (tea seller) could become India's prime minister. His party colleague Mallikarjun Kharge had also said a "chaiwala" could become the prime minister as the Congress preserved democracy.
"They (Congress leaders) are saying it was due to a great person, due to Pandit Nehru, that a chaiwala became the prime minister," Modi said.
"If you so much respect the democracy, do a small thing. If you claim that because of your principles, your faith in democracy, the Constitution and Pandit Nehru, Modi, a chaiwala, could become the prime minister, appoint someone good from outside the (Gandhi) family as the Congress president for just five years," he said.
"If this happens, I will accept that Nehruji created such a democratic system because of which anyone, (even) a dedicated Congressman outside the family could become the Congress chief," he said.
Modi's fiver-year tenure remark was apparently in reference to Sitaram Kesri who was the Congress president in the 90s, but did not have a five-year term. He held the post from September 1996 to March 1998.
The "contract of democracy" of the country was not given to a family, he said, adding the (Gandhi) family felt the Britishers had named India after it.
Without naming the Gandhis, Modi said they were unable to come to terms that Modi has been a prime minister for four and a half years now "after their four generations ruled the country".
"They still keep crying. How could a chaiwala sit (on the prime minister's chair). How could he? They still cannot fathom how come the son of a poor mother could sit on the 'raj gaddi' (throne of power)," he said.
Modi said people have disproved that it was the "right of only one family" to speak from the ramparts of the Red Fort in Delhi.
"You can't understand the difficulties faced by the poor, but a chaiwala can," Modi said in a veiled attack on the Congress and the Gandhis.
"They (Congress) have kept the country in the dark with their lies which are ingrained in their minds," Modi said, not mincing words to target the principal opposition party and its top leaders.
He also hailed the impressive turnout in the first phase of polling held in the state on 10 November.
"People of Bastar in Chhattisgarh gave a strong response to Naxals by registering record voting percentage in the first phase," he added.
The second phase of polling in the state will be held on 20 November and the election results will be out on 11 December.