Jaipur: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has triggered a fresh controversy by calling Prime Minister Narendra Modi as 'Panauti Modi' while addressing an election rally in Rajasthan on Tuesday. BJP demanded an apology from him after his speech video went viral on social media.
Gandhi addressed two rallies in Vallabhnagar in Udaipur and Baytoo in Balotra ahead of the November 25 Rajasthan assembly polls.In his addresses, the Congress leader also flagged various issues, including the demand for a nationwide caste census.
Addressing the rally in Baytoo, Gandhi referred to India's loss in the Cricket World Cup final against Australia and used the term 'panauti' associated with bad luck. The word 'panauti' has been trending on social media since the defeat in the match, attended by Prime Minister Modi at the Ahmedabad stadium named after him.
Gandhi alleged Modi diverts people's attention while industrialist Adani picks their pockets. He said Modi "comes on TV and says 'Hindu- Muslim' and sometimes goes to a cricket match. It is a different matter that the match was lost. Panauti. PM means Panauti Modi," Gandhi continued.
Hitting back, senior BJP leader and former Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said Gandhi's remarks about the prime minister of the country were "shameful, condemnable and disgraceful".
He has shown his true colours but he must remember as to how the Congress sank in Gujarat after his mother Sonia Gandhi called Modi, then chief minister of the state, "maut ka saudagar".
"I vehemently condemn Rahul Gandhi's comment about the prime minister," Prasad told reporters when asked for his reaction to the Congress leader's remarks.
The BJP leader alleged that Gandhi has made such remarks against Prime Minister Modi out of frustration seeing an imminent defeat of the Congress in the assembly polls.
"Rahul Gandhi must apologise...else we will make this issue very serious," the BJP leader said, adding that the Congress leader with his remarks against Modi has shown "his true colours as to what is your status and understanding", he said.
Caste census is country's X-ray, says Rahul
Rahul Gandhi also alleged Modi waived loans of big industrialists and gave them all advantages. Addressing the rally in Vallabhnagar earlier in the day, Gandhi raised the caste census pitch, describing it as an 'X-ray' of the country.
Gandhi said the Congress will conduct a caste census in Rajasthan if it comes to power and also do so at the national level if the party forms the government at the Centre.
"If it is not known whose population is how much, then how will we talk about their participation? The first step is to do an X-ray of the country, hence the caste census is an X-ray of the country, it is necessary to do it, he said. He also attacked on the issue.
The prime minister used to say earlier that he is from OBC but the day the demand for a caste census was raised, he started saying there is only once caste in India and that is the poor, Gandhi claimed.
"I called for a caste census in Parliament. Modi's speeches changed after that day. Earlier he used to say that he is OBC. The day I talked about caste census, after that day Modi said that there is only one caste in India - the poor. No OBC, no tribal and no Dalit, just one caste the poor, he said.
"He did not say that there is another caste of billionaires also. That is Adani-Ambani's caste. They have a special caste, Gandhi said.
"When it comes to elections, then it is OBC and when it is about giving participation, then there is one caste - the poor, he said.
Gandhi alleged that Modi works for industrialists such as Adani and Ambani, gives them the GST collected from people and in return, they show Modi's face in the media all the time.
He said the media was talking about cricket only and added a few minutes of coverage should be given to the labourers trapped inside a collapsed tunnel in Uttarkashi in Uttarakhand.
The former Congress president alleged that Modi diverts people's attention while industrialist Adani picks their pockets and added "they are a team".
He also alleged that Modi brought schemes such as Agniveer for giving benefits to Adani.