Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Thursday recalled his surprising embrace to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in parliament last year, saying his love suppressed PM's hatred for him. Addressing a rally in Gujarat, Mr Gandhi added that hatred can only be ended by love.
"When I hugged him, there was no hate for him in me. But when I hugged him, my love suppressed the hatred in him. And this is what Gandhi ji said-- this country is not the country of hate, it is the country of love," Mr Gandhi said.
During the no-confidence motion debate in parliament in July last year, Mr Gandhi suddenly turned towards PM Modi and said,"You can abuse me, you can call me Pappu, but I don't have a speck of hatred against you. I will take out this hatred out of you and turn it into love. I am the Congress". He then walked to PM Modi and hugged him.
The PM, still seated, had been visibly caught off guard by the gesture. As he returned to his seat, Rahul Gandhi winked at fellow Congress parliamentarian Jyotiraditya Scindia, sitting next to him.
On Wednesday, PM Modi delivered his last speech in parliament before the upcoming Lok Sabha election. He recalled the hug-and-wink incident and took a jibe at Mr Gandhi without naming him.
"I came here for the first time and learnt many things. For the first time, I realized the difference between gale lagna and gale padna (an embrace and someone throwing themselves at you)," he said.
"I saw for the first time that there are aankhon ki gustakhiyan (mischief of the eyes) in the house," he added.
Mr Gandhi on Thursday said he hugged PM Modi even when he insults his family and party.
"While Narendra Modi talks bad about me, about my family and the Congress; he insults Congress, says will wipe the party off, but still the party's president (Rahul Gandhi) goes and hugs him in parliament," he said.
PM Modi and Mr Gandhi are bitter political rivals. They are known for making sharp attacks at each other. While PM Modi calls Mr Gandhi a dynastic leader, referring to many Congress presidents coming from his family, the Congress chief has been attacking the PM with a slogan "Chowkidaar chor hai".
Rahul Gandhi alleges corruption and crony capitalism in the Rafale jet deal.