Congress president Rahul Gandhi was targeted with an expletive by Himachal Pradesh BJP chief Satpal Singh Satti at a public event in Baddi town of the Shimla Lok Sabha constituency today, provoking protests from the opposition party.
Mr Satti said that if Mr Gandhi can call Prime Minister Narendra Modi -- who refers to himself as India's chowkidar (watchman) -- a thief, he is also free to abuse him. "Rahul Gandhi is out on bail, his mother is out on bail, his brother-in-law is out on bail, and yet he calls the Prime Minister a thief. A Punjabi man asked me to convey this to you with a heavy heart, and that inspires me to tell you this. If PM Modi is a thief, then you are a m********," he was heard saying in a video widely circulated on social media.
The state unit of the Congress sought an apology from Mr Satti, failing which they would file a complaint with the Election Commission. "We are taking the opinion of our legal cell. Subsequently, we may just file that complaint," Naresh Chauhan, chief spokesperson for the Himachal Congress, said.
State Congress chief Kuldeep Rathore said such abusive language was not expected from a senior politician.
PM Modi has declared himself as the chowkidar who watches over the country's borders and wealth, and the same idea was used to shape the BJP campaign "Main Bhi Chowkidar" for the Lok Sabha elections across the country recently. However, the Congress countered his claim to allege that "Chowkidar Chor Hain (the watchman is a thief)", referring to the Rafale fighter jet deal with France in particular.
The Congress has alleged irregularities in the Rafale deal, saying that the government was procuring each aircraft at a cost of over Rs 1,670 crore as against Rs 526 crore finalised by the UPA government when it was negotiating the deal.
Incidentally, Mr Satti was not the only politician to make an unsavoury reference to a rival leader today. Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan was caught talking about "khaki underwear" on video while campaigning in Uttar Pradesh's Rampur against actress-turned-politician Jaya Prada, a former party colleague who has now joined the BJP.
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