‘Love and a huge hug’: Rahul Gandhi replies to Narendra Modi’s attack at Rajiv Gandhi as opposition blasts PM

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “bhrashtachari no. 1” barb against Rajiv Gandhi snowballed into a political storm Sunday, even as Congress chief Rahul Gandhi replied to him with “love and a huge hug” and said he should wait for his ‘karma’ to catch up.

Gandhi said that though Modi was projecting his beliefs about himself onto Rajiv Gandhi, he would not be able to protect himself, and that the battle for him is over. Modi’s remarks drew widespread condemnation from Congress and other opposition leaders who felt the prime minister lowered the dignity of his office by making such comments about a former PM, who is no longer alive. The BJP, however, said every word Modi had said about Rajiv Gandhi was true and that the Congress chief was rattled due to his party’s imminent defeat in Lok Sabha polls.

Union minister Prakash Javadekar cited the former prime minister’s remarks about the 1984 riots to accuse him of “supporting” the massacre of Sikhs. The senior BJP leader also claimed he was surprised at the reactions of Rahul Gandhi and his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra over Modi’s remarks. Rahul Gandhi’s comments came after Modi said at a poll rally that his father Rajiv Gandhi’s life ended as “bhrashtachari no. 1” (corrupt no. 1). “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,” the Congress president tweeted.

Priyanka Vadra, the Congress general secretary, attacked Modi, saying he had insulted Rajiv Gandhi. “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. Javadekar said that everything Modi 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,” he said.

“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, it is clear that the Congress is losing,” he claimed. 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.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata 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. Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel said, “Those whose nationalism is pseudo and whose politics is based on dividing people will never understand Rajiv Gandhi and his sacrifice for the nation”.

He said India would not forgive the people who insulted, hurt and abused martyrs, and history was going to record the name of “this pseudo nationalist in black ink for all his sins against the nation”. Samajwadi Party’s Akhilesh 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.

Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram also hit out at Modi, saying it showed his “desperation” and “fear of defeat”. “PM has crossed all limits of propriety and decency by defaming Rajiv Gandhi, who died in 1991,” he said. The former finance minister wondered if any religion sanctioned speaking ill of the dead and said Modi had crossed all limits of propriety and decency by defaming Gandhi.

Quoting a Latin saying ‘De mortuis nihil nisi bonum’ which meant ‘Of the dead, speaking nothing but the good’, Chidambaram asked, “Has the PM heard of this ancient wisdom?” Congress leader KC Venugopal termed it as a “sickening remark” against a former prime minister who was conferred the Bharat Ratna award. “The PM must remember that abusing the martyred prime minister in public will not bring in votes but will demean the stature of the respectful post he assumes,” he said, adding that no PM had ever stooped so a low for “cheap political gains”.




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