Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel has jumped into the bitter fight between Congress and BJP leaders over Prime Minister Narendra Modi's comments on former PM Rajiv Gandhi "ending his life as bhrashtachari (corrupt) number one".
"Rajiv Gandhi ji passed away years ago, talking about him and that too during elections shows Modi ji has lost mental balance. He needs medical treatment. He says he only gets to sleep for three to four hours. Those who don't get enough sleep tend to lose their mental balance," Mr Baghel told reporters in Raipur on Monday, news agency ANI reported.
PM Modi in past interaction with the media had said he usually sleeps three-four hours due to the demanding nature of his job. Actor Akshay Kumar in a widely televised interview with PM Modi on April 24 had also asked him, "You sleep only three-four hours, a body needs at least seven, right?"
BJP ministers have defended PM Modi's comments on Rajiv Gandhi, and the Prime Minister himself on Monday pressed on with his attack on the Gandhis, challenging the Congress to "fight polls in the name of the Bofors-accused former PM".
"Your father was termed 'Mr Clean' by his courtiers, but his life ended as 'bhrashtachari number 1' (corrupt number 1)," PM Modi said at a rally in Uttar Pradesh on Saturday last.
PM Modi's reference was to corruption allegations in the purchase of Bofors guns in the 1980s. Rajiv Gandhi, who was assassinated in 1991 by terrorists, had got a clean chit from the court in the Bofors case. The Delhi High Court said there was no evidence that he accepted bribes and eventually dismissed all charges against the accused persons in the politically sensitive case.
The PM's statement has been condemned not just by Rahul Gandhi's sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and former union minister P Chidambaram, but also other opposition leaders like Akhilesh Yadav and Arvind Kejriwal.
On Sunday, Rahul Gandhi responded to PM Modi's comments on his father with a tweet - and a hug. "Modi Ji, The battle is over. Your Karma awaits you. Projecting your inner beliefs about yourself onto my father won't protect you. All my love and a huge hug. Rahul," read the tweet from the Congress chief, who made headlines last year by hugging the Prime Minister on the floor of parliament.
With inputs from ANI