New Delhi: Raking up the 2002 post-Godhra riots issue, Congress on Friday appeared to compare Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi with 'yamraj', the Lord of Death in Hindu mythology.
The party also said it feared the "consequences" if Mr Modi was to become Prime Minister, a day after the Chief Minister made the strongest-ever indication of his prime ministerial ambitions.
"Had he intended to indicate Narendra Modi he would not have referred to somebody riding a horse but somebody riding a buffalo (yama's vehicle)....Rahulji has talked about somebody coming on a horse, he must be referring to a messiah," AICC spokesman Rashid Alvi told reporters.
He was replying to a question whether Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi was referring to Mr Modi when he said in his CII speech on Thursday that no one person can come charging on horseback and solve all the country's problems.
The invoking of 'yamraj' barb brings back the memories of "merchant of death" used by Congress President Sonia Gandhi in the campaign during Gujarat Assembly elections in 2007, which was believed to have boomeranged on the party. In subsequent elections, the party avoided references to the riots.
Ridiculing Mr Modi's comments on Thursday about "repaying the debt" to nation, seen as his first-ever admission of his prime ministerial ambitions, Mr Alvi said "We are frightened if he wants to pay back the debt to Delhi (nation) in the same manner in which he has paid the debt to the soil of Gujarat."
Mr Modi on Thursday had said it was the duty of every child to repay the debt he owes to "Mother India".
Striking a similar note, Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari said, he often worries about Mr Modi's statements and hoped he does not do in the rest of India what "he did in Gujarat in 2002.
"As someone who believes in the idea of India, who believes in the plurality of Indian ethos, who is committed to the founding values of the Indian Constitution, I often worry about the statements of the Gujarat Chief Minister.
"I hope he doesn't want to do in the rest of India what he did in Gujarat in 2002."
On questions related to the United States' stance of not granting a visa to Mr Modi, Mr Tewari said he wondered why there was an obsession related to a foreign visa.
Mocking Mr Modi's remarks on repaying debt, Mr Alvi said that he can do it while working in a village also.
He went on to quote a Ghalib couplet 'Haazaron khawhishen aisi, ke har khwahish pe dum nikle.' (There are thousands of wishes and in pursuit of each, life could be consumed) "If somebody thinks the debt of the nation can be paid by only coming to Delhi, this is that person's thinking. People have various desires," he added.