Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu on Wednesday hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi calling him a "pseudo chowkidar" who protected only criminals.
Mr Naidu's remarks triggered a strong reaction from the BJP which accused the Telugu Desam party president of resorting to "murky politics" as his party was frightened of losing in the April 11 Lok Sabha and State assembly polls.
"What right you have to call yourself a chowkidar? You are chowkidar for criminals," the Telugu Desam Party president said at a press conference.
Referring to the Enforcement Directorates (ED) 2017 letter to the CBI asking it to file a fresh memo under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act in ''Jagan Mohan Reddy illegal assets case'', Mr Naidu alleged that the central agency did not act on the ED letter.
"Its only because the Prime Minister chose to protect (YSR Congress president) Jagan Mohan Reddy... the Telangana government also did not take steps to cancel the land allotments made in a dubious manner. All this establishes the nexus between PM Modi, (Telangana Chief Minister) K Chandrasekhar Rao and Jagan Mohan Reddy," the TDP chief alleged.
"He (Reddy) has totally surrendered to Modi and KCR just to get bailed out of the cases," Mr Naidu added.
Accusing the Prime Minister of being a "pseudo chowkidar", the Chief Minister said the former was guarding only "hardened economic criminals."
He wondered why the ED letter was suppressed for two years while 10 and 20 year-old cases against opposition leaders were being dug out now.
Mr Naidu said PM Modi and KCR owed an explanation on this.
Condemning Mr Naidu's remarks, BJP MP GVL Narasimha Rao and MLC Somu Veerraju said the CBI started working independently only after the BJP came to power at the Centre.
"BJP never tries to fix or threaten anyone. Prime Minister Modi has no need to protect anyone. The TDP is indulging in a mischievously false propaganda only for political gains," the BJP leaders said.
Had the BJP been influencing investigating agencies, would Mr Naidu who has been indulging in massive corruption be roaming free, they asked.
"There is a cyclonic storm in AP against the TDP. It is so frightened of losing and hence resorting to murky politics. That its leaders are leaving the TDP in hordes is clear proof that its a sinking ship," the BJP leaders said.