The Bharatiya Janata Party will run a nationwide campaign on Congress leader Rahul Gandhi's disqualification as a Lok Sabha MP over his "How do all thieves have Modi as the common surname?" remark in 2019, party sources said. Union Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Pralhad Joshi held a meeting with all OBC ministers, who will issue statements echoing party president JP Nadda's charge that Mr Gandhi insulted the Other Backward Classes by calling them thieves, in the Parliament.
Dharmendra Pradhan, Krishan Pal Gurjar, Prahlad Singh Patel, Rameswar Teli were among the top leaders present in the meeting.
"By comparing OBC communities to thieves, Rahul Gandhi has shown a pathetic and casteist mindset. However, his latest tirade is not surprising. For the last many years, he has always reduced levels of political discourse," JP Nadda had earlier tweeted.
The entire Other Backward Classes will avenge this insult in a democratic manner, the BJP president had said.
"He repeatedly hurt the sentiments of the OBCs. The Surat court has convicted him for his objectionable comments against the community. But Rahul Gandhi and the Congress stuck to those remarks due to their arrogance," Mr Nadda said.
Union Minister and BJP's national general secretary Bhupender Yadav had also earlier today slammed Congress MP Rahul Gandhi, saying using the term 'thief' for an entire community is a misuse of freedom of speech. "There's a difference between criticism and abuse, they are different. He has abused the entire OBC community," he told NDTV.
The Congress refuted Mr Nadda's allegation that Rahul Gandhi compared OBC communities to thieves, and accused the ruling party of defending the likes of fugitives Nirav Modi and Lalit Modi, and indulging in "caste politics".
Congress chief and Leader of Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge, in a tweet in Hindi, said, "Modi government cannot escape from JPC! Nirav Modi, Lalit Modi, and Mehul Choksi fled with the money of PNB and the public. OBCs did not do so, then how were they insulted?" "SBI/LIC suffered losses due to your 'best friend'!" he said, slamming the government.
"'Ek toh chori mein sahyog phir jatigat rajneeti ka prayog' (First providing help in stealing then applying caste politics)," Mr Kharge said.
Later, interacting with reporters, the Congress president said his party is seeking answers as to who ran away with people's money, while the BJP is trying to distract from the main issue.
"They are talking of insult to backward classes. The Congress has always stood with and fought for the backward classes, scheduled castes and minorities. These people, who believe in Manu, talk of backward classes," Mr Kharge said.
A court in Gujarat's Surat yesterday sentenced Rahul Gandhi to two years in jail in the case, filed on a complaint by BJP MLA Purnesh Modi for his alleged remark, "How come all thieves have Modi as the common surname?" The court also granted him bail and suspended the sentence for 30 days to allow him to appeal to a higher court.