Countering Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his 'bail-gaadi' jibe, party leader Mallikarjun Kharge today said there were "so many" criminals with the BJP that even the proposed Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train would not be able to carry all of them together.
The recently appointed Congress general secretary in-charge of Maharashtra also attacked PM Modi over issues like patriotism, farmers, his alleged silence on atrocities against Dalits and women, and "devaluation" of Parliament.
Mr Kharge asked the Congress rank and file in Mumbai to work hard to "teach the BJP a lesson" in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls by winning all the six parliamentary seats in the megalopolis.
Speaking at a public rally in Jaipur on July 7, PM Modi, punning on the Hindi term for a bullock cart, had said the Congress was being called a "bail-gaadi" as several of its leaders were out on bail.
"The country's prime minister is calling the Congress a 'bail-gaadi'. They have so many criminals (associated) with them that even the (proposed) bullet train between Ahmedabad and Mumbai won't be able to transport all of them together," Mr Kharge said at an event organised by the Mumbai Congress.
"They say ours a 'bail-gaadi'. But their criminals are on bail and also in jail," he added.
The senior Congress leader also attacked the ruling BJP over Union minister Jayant Sinha reportedly "garlanding" those accused of lynching members of a minority community in the name of cow protection last week.
He also questioned another Union minister Giriraj Singh reportedly meeting riots accused in a Bihar jail recently.
"Modiji doesn't open his mouth on issues like these (ministers meeting accused). He doesn't speak up on atrocities against Dalits and women. He has reduced importance of Parliament. Importance is given to only one person (the prime minister)," he charged.
The Leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha asked party activists and functionaries to work hard to ensure survival of democracy and the Constitution.
Attacking the RSS-BJP combine, Mr Kharge said the Congress need not learn patriotism from "others" as the old party had spearheaded the freedom struggle.
"Our leaders Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi laid their lives for the country. We (the Congress) made several sacrifices...and Modiji asks us what the Congress did for 60 years? Now what to do...Modiji was born after independence and hence, he knows less," Mr Kharge quipped.
He accused the BJP of not being able to run the government properly and raised the issue of death of farmers, particularly in Maharashtra, where the number of peasants who have committed suicide following agrarian crisis is the "highest".
"The only weapon we have is to teach them (the BJP) a lesson in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls," he added.
Meanwhile, Mr Kharge launched Mumbai Congress' door-to-door campaign 'Shakti', an initiative that would work as a communication bridge between the party's national leadership and lower rung workers.
Maharashtra Congress chief Ashok Chavan, the party's Mumbai unit chief Sanjay Nirupam and other leaders attended the event.