PM Modi did not name Mr Gandhi in his review of the Congress leader's stand on the Goods and Services Tax launched in July this year, only saying that a "recently emerged economist" was propagating a "grand stupid thought" by suggesting that the GST rate should be capped at 18 per cent. GST currently has four tax slabs.
The prime minister is campaigning in his home state Gujarat today, where elections will be held early next month. Rahul Gandhi too is addressing rallies in the state, like the prime minister focusing his attention today on the Saurashtra region.
Mr Gandhi has in an aggressive campaign in Gujarat repeatedly attacked PM Modi and the BJP over last year's notes ban and GST, which he has labeled the Gabbar Singh Tax, after the famous villain in Bollywood film Sholay. Mr Gandhi alleges that faulty implementation of GST has hurt small businesses.
"Today, some so called smart people, some new economists have emerged who are misleading people," PM Modi said in Gujarati, at his first stop Morbi. "Those who have looted people throughout their life, they can only remember dacoits," he added.
"This means 18 per cent tax on salt and 18 per cent tax on luxury cars costing Rs 5 crore," the prime minister said, adding, "What kind of smartness is this... how has such an economist emerged here?"
Making a strong appeal to the people to vote for the BJP in the Patidar community stronghold, PM Modi said his party should not be voted out for 100 years. He said he had spent a month working in Morbi as an RSS worker after the Macchu dam flood tragedy of 1979.
"I remember then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had come here and Chitralekha (a local language magazine) had printed her photo with a handkerchief over her nose, trying to avoid the stench, while another photo on the same front page had RSS workers carrying dead bodies," the prime minister said.