Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his "bhrashtachari (corrupt) no. 1" taunt at Rajiv Gandhi, saying that PM Modi had hit the "nadir of pettiness" in his desperation to stay in power.
"Faced with imminent ouster from the seat of power, power-hungry Modi has lost all sense of decency and proportion in his election campaign, reducing it to a shameless mockery of public norms," he said.
"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 recently.
"(PM) Modi's remarks were outright despicable and reflective of his loathsome mindset," said the Punjab Chief Minister.
"The universal criticism the Prime Minister has faced over his comments showed that no sane individual or political institution that looked at elections as a serious democratic process could condone such malicious and baseless propaganda. The entire opposition has flayed Modi over his disgusting remarks - a clear indication that nobody wants the election process of the country to be vilified in such a manner," he added.
Captain Amarinder, who was Rajiv Gandhi's senior in school, described the former Prime Minister as one of the most decent, humble and honest men he had ever known. "Rajiv had nothing but unwavering love for India and would never, in his wildest imagination, have even thought of cheating the country or its people," he said.
"But a thief thinks everybody else is also a thief, and a liar cannot envisage any person to be truthful," the Chief Minister quipped, lashing out at PM Modi for lying about a person who could no longer defend himself.
"Rajiv sacrificed his life for the country, and our current Prime Minister, unmindful of the dignity of the chair he has been ensconced in for the past five years, deems it fit to drag the former PM's name into what he has reduced to a shameful saga of low-level electioneering," said Captain Amarinder.
"Even Modi's own party leader, former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, always had good things to say about Rajiv," the Chief Minister added.