Prime Minister Narendra Modi hit out at Congress's Rahul Gandhi today, saying his remarks on democracy in India was an attack on the people of Karnataka, India, and God. "It is unfortunate that from the soil of London, questions are being raised on Indian democracy," PM Modi said during his visit to Karnataka. "These people are insulting Bhagwan Basaveshwara, the people of Karnataka and the people of India. Karnataka must stay away from such people," he added in his address in the state, where assembly elections are due later this year.
"The entire world studies this democratic system. And there are many such other things for which we can say that India is not only the largest democracy but the mother of democracy... There is no force that can weaken Indian democracy. But despite that, there are constant attempts by some people to attack Indian democracy," he said.
The Congress retaliated, questioning since when the criticism of the PM's policies became criticism of the country.
"You (PM Modi) insult three generations when you say nothing happened in the last 70 years. Then you do not bother about the image of the country. You pat yourself on the back in Parliament saying 'Ek akela sab par bhari'. The world sees it and also laughs at it," Congress's senior leader Pawan Khera said in a video statement posted on his Twitter account.
Later in a tweet in Hindi, Mr Khera said, "Since when did the criticism of your policies become the criticism of the country? You are just a prime minister, you are neither the country, nor God nor the creator".
Mr Gandhi's comments at his alma mater Cambridge University -- that Indian democracy is under attack and several politicians, including himself, are under surveillance -- have become the latest flashpoint between the Congress and the BJP. The BJP has accused him of "defaming" the country abroad after repeated electoral defeats.
Mr Gandhi has hit back, alleging that it is the Prime Minister who discredited the country's achievements since Independence.
"I recall the Prime Minister going abroad and announcing that noting has been done in the 60 or 70 years of Independence," Mr Gandhi told reporters at an event organised by the Indian Journalists' Association last week.
"I remember him saying there was a lost decade... there is unlimited corruption in India. I remember him saying this abroad... You have not heard his speech where he said nothing has been done in India since Independence, insulting every Indian parent, grandparent?" he said.
"I have never defamed my country. I'm not interested in it. I'll never do it. Of course, the BJP liked to twist what I'm saying. That's fine," he had added.