Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao described Rahul Gandhi as the "biggest buffoon in the country" in a savage takedown today of the Congress president who has taken him on in rallies.
Mr Rao, aka KCR, was addressing reporters hours after announcing that the state assembly would be dissolved, which set Telangana on course to early polls. Earlier this week, he had stopped short of announcing the move, prompting a Congress dig that "Prime Minister Narendra Modi's slave and puppet may have dropped the idea."
Perhaps smarting from that comment, KCR today launched an unfiltered attack on the Congress chief, saying: "Everyone knows what Rahul Gandhi is...He's the biggest buffoon in the country. Whole country has seen how he went to Mr Narendra Modi and hugged him, the way he is winking."
He was referring to the 47-year-old Congress chief's much-talked about act of hugging the Prime Minister in the Lok Sabha.
Asked about the Congress president's plans to campaign in the state, KCR scoffed: "He is an asset for us. The more he comes to Telangana, the more seats we will win."
The Chief Minister of India's newest state also said Rahul Gandhi had inherited the "Congress's Delhi sultanate". And so, he said, the people of Telangana should not be slaves to Delhi. "The decisions of Telangana should be taken in Telangana," he said.
A stung Congress retorted: "Only a buffoon can say this".
Congress leader RC Khuntia said the Telangana chief minister had no right to say anything about Rahul Gandhi, when he was himself promoting his family. "He is a Hitler, a dictator. He hasn't visited his office because of superstition," Mr Khuntia said. In recent weeks, Rahul Gandhi had called Telangana the "capital of corruption" and even compared KCR to PM Modi, saying both had the "same style".
Earlier today, KCR asked the Governor to dissolve the assembly, a decision that had been anticipated for days. The move pushes forward the elections from the middle of 2019 to the end of this year.
The Chief Minister also named more than 100 candidates of his Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS).
Mr Rao's push for early elections is seen as a move to keep his voter base together. Had the assembly completed the full term, it would have clashed with the general elections and the focus would shift to PM Modi.
The TRS chief has been pitching for a non-Congress-non-BJP front for the 2019 polls for months. The Congress, however, accuses him of working to a secret pact with the BJP, especially after Mr Rao met with the Prime Minister in August.