Describing himself as a "mard" from Maharashtra, NCP chief Sharad Pawar on Friday hit back at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying he did not heed criticism.
Addressing a poll rally at Shevgaon in Ahmednagar constituency, Mr Pawar said PM Modi used to "hurl abuse" at the Nehru-Gandhi family earlier, and now Mr Pawar was his target.
"I am getting free publicity. Am I some ordinary man then? I come from the soil Shivaji Maharaj was born in. Hence I do not pay heed to criticism," Mr Pawar said, canvassing for party candidate Sangram Jagtap.
Speaking at a rally in Gondia on Wednesday, PM Modi had said NCP leaders "were unable to sleep" as their "sleep was jailed in Delhi's Tihar". He was apparently referring to jailed corporate lobbyist Deepak Talwar.
Before that, at a rally in Wardha on Monday, PM Modi had said that Mr Pawar was losing grip on the NCP. Pawar alleged that the prime minister spent Rs 18 crore for performing ''jal pujan'' of the Shivaji memorial off the Mumbai coast, "but the government which is ruling in the name of Shivaji Maharaj did not lay even a single brick for the memorial".
More money was spent on publicity of the Statue of Unity in Gujarat than on its construction, the NCP chief claimed.
He also alleged that PM Modi made 92 foreign visits in 55 months, costing the exchequer Rs 2,021 crore.
The former Union minister also took potshots at PM Modi over demonetisation, unemployment and "failure'' to bring back black money stashed abroad.
On the Rafale fighter jet deal, the former Defence minister said its price per aircraft soared from Rs 350 crore during the UPA regime to Rs 1,660 crore now. "There is something fishy in it," he added.
The Modi government politicised the release of IAF Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman from Pakistan after he was caught by the neighbouring country''s forces following an aerial engagement on February 27, he said.
"Abhinandan was released as per Geneva Conventions. But the issue was politicised, saying he could be brought back only due to the 56-inch chest leadership (of Modi)," Mr Pawar said.
"Why haven''t you ensured release of Kulbhushan Jadhav with this 56-inch chest?" asked Mr Pawar.
Jadhav, former Navy officer, is on death row in Pakistan after he was charged there with espionage. Later, Mr Pawar took to Twitter to say that "The Modi government earlier abused the Gandhi family, later they abused Nehru too. Now they have turned to me.
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