Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said the Congress had lost the national election for its use of abusive language to target Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but in the same breath, refused to comment on Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar's offensive descriptor for Sonia Gandhi recently.
"In a healthy democracy, if poor words are used against any institution, be it the Prime Minister or President or a judge, then everyone knows that person doesn't believe in democratic ethics," Rajnath Singh, campaigning in Maharashtra on Monday, told NDTV in an apparent reference to then Congress president Rahul Gandhi repeatedly attacking PM Modi in his election campaign with the phrase "Chowkidar Chor Hai".
Rahul Gandhi's campaign, which failed to translate into votes for the Congress, swirled around his allegation of corruption in the deal to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets from France and his charge that the PM facilitated an offset contract for businessman Anil Ambani. Mr Gandhi repeated the allegations before large crowds using the term "Chowkidar" that the PM used for himself while assuring a crackdown on corruption.
The campaign came a cropper, with the BJP returning to power with a bigger majority and the Congress winning only 52 of 543 seats - just marginally better than its 2014 tally of 44.
"In the 2019 Lok Sabha election, people made it clear who stands where. It is because of the unseemly words it used that the Congress is falling further and further behind," Mr Singh said.
Asked to respond to Mr Khattar's outrageous comments against Sonia Gandhi, the Defence Minister said: "I haven't heard what he said, so I won't react.
Mr Khattar, while campaigning in Haryana last week, had said: "After the defeat in the Lok Sabha election, Rahul quit as the party president and said the new Congress chief would not be from the Gandhi family. We welcomed his decision. It is good to end dynasty politics. Then, these people started searching (for the new president) across the country. After three months, they made Sonia Gandhi the Congress chief. It was like khoda pahaad, nikli chuhiya, woh bhi mari hui... (like digging up a mountain to find a mouse, that too a dead one)."
Maharashtra and Haryana, both ruled by the BJP, will vote on October 21 for assembly elections. The results will be declared on October 24.