Prime Minister Narendra Modi's stinging attack on Congress President Rahul Gandhi involving his father Rajiv Gandhi got a rebuttal from unexpected quarters on Wednesday. A Karnataka BJP leader issued a rejoinder of sorts, saying PM Modi's comment was unnecessary.
"LTTE planned and assassinated Rajiv Gandhi. He did not die due to corruption allegations. Nobody believes that, even I don't believe it. I have lot of respect for Modi ji, but it was not necessary for him to speak against Rajiv Gandhi," Srinivasa Prasad, a former Parliamentarian, was quoted by news agency ANI as saying.
Mr Prasad, who served as a minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, had joined the Congress and was a state minister. He rejoined the BJP in 2017.
In a comment that earned him condemnation from a united opposition, PM Modi last week said Rajiv Gandhi's life ended as "corrupt number 1".
"Your father was termed 'Mr Clean' by his courtiers, but his life ended as ''Bhrashtachari No 1'' (corrupt number 1)," PM Modi had said at a rally in Uttar Pradesh.
He was referring to the allegations of corruption that had surfaced against Rajiv Gandhi in the Bofors case. The allegations had been dismissed by the high court.
While Congress President Rahul Gandhi resorted to a measured response to PM's comment, replying with "love" and "hugs", West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee launched an all-out attack.
"People who lay down their lives for the country, they should be respected. Yesterday, you called Rajiv Gandhi corrupted Prime Minister. Today you are calling me 'tolabaaz'. If I am a tolabaaz, what are you? What are you? Your entire body - from head to feet - is drenched in the blood of people. Only riots, only riots and only riots," she had said at a rally in Bengal.
Despite the opposition's onslaught, PM Modi amplified his argument, challenging the Congress to "fight polls in the name of the Bofors-accused former PM".
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Wednesday responded to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's challenge with one of her own.
"A Delhi girl is openly challenging you. Contest the last two phases on notebandi, GST, women's safety and unfulfilled promises to the youth," she said while campaigning in Delhi.
Delhi will vote on May 12 in the sixth phase of the ongoing national election.