Speaking at a rally in Pratapgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Modi said, “Your father was termed Mr Clean by his courtiers, but his life ended as bhrashtachari no 1”.
The Prime Minister’s statement has stirred a debate with the Opposition strongly condemning it and asking for an apology and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders backing Modi.
Rahul and Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra have also responded to the barb on their father.
“Modi Ji, the battle is over. Your Karma awaits you. Projecting your inner beliefs about yourself onto my father won’t protect you. All my love and a huge hug,” Rahul tweeted.
Priyanka said Modi’s remark reflects his “uncontrolled madness”. “The PM, who seeks votes in the name of martyrs, due to his unbridled obsession has disrespected the supreme sacrifice of a good and noble human being. The people of Amethi, for whom Rajiv Gandhi gave their life, will give a reply. But yes, Modiji, this country never forgives those who deceive,” she said in a tweet in Hindi.
Banerjee condemned the statement and said Rajiv Gandhi had laid down his life for the motherland. “The comments made by ‘Expiry PM’ Modi ji against former PM Rajiv Gandhi Ji are very unfortunate,” she said.
Yadav said whatever political disagreements people might have, those martyred deserved the people’s respect and their families deserves empathy. “Election or not, this is basic humanity.”
Yadav claimed that the prime minister’s statement indicated the level to which people can stoop for the sake of clinging on to power.
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot claimed that Modi was a master telling lies and he was trying to defame Congress leaders with baseless and irrelevant statements.
He asked whether it behoves Modi to “insult” a former prime minister and accused him of lowering the dignity of his office.
Claiming that Modi was “jolted” by the corruption allegations in the Rafale deal, he said the Congress will continue to rake up the issue till the prime minister is held accountable.
MNS chief Raj Thackeray also condemned Modi’s statement, saying the country will not pardon him for the remarks.
In a tweet, Thackeray said:
Congress leader Shiela Dikshit condemned the “derogatory” language used by Modi against Rajiv Gandhi and said it has lowered the BJP leader’s reputation among people.
Dikshit also sought an unqualified apology from Modi and added that his remarks have “deeply hurt the people of the country”.
BJP backs Modi’s statement
Meanwhile, BJP leaders are defending Modi with Prakash Javadekar saying that every single word the PM had said about Rajiv Gandhi was true.
“Everything the PM said was true. After the killings of Sikhs in the 1984 riots, didn’t Rajiv Gandhi support it? He had said when a big tree fell, the earth shook. Scriptures do not say that. The scriptures say when the earth shakes, big trees fall...they turned science on its head.
“They (Congress) are playing the politics of abuses. The Gandhis are rattled and they cannot tolerate it. The people of this country know everything. After four phases of polling (in the ongoing Lok Sabha election), it is clear that the Congress is losing,” Javadekar said.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley wondered why Rahul Gandhi gets disturbed when issues on integrity of the Rajiv Gandhi-led government are raised.
He said the Congress chief thinks that “dynast” does not have to answer any question even though he can attack Modi, a man of utmost integrity.
“Why is Rahul Gandhi so disturbed if the integrity issues of the Rajiv Gandhi government are raised? Why did Ottavio Quattrocchi get kickbacks in Bofors? Who was the Q’ connection? No reply has come,” Jaitley said.
He said that former prime minister Indira Gandhi was also assassinated and yet the Congress is questioned about the Emergency and the Operation Blue Star.
(With PTI inputs)