Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday delivered a stinging retort to the Congress and its chief Rahul Gandhi, who had questioned his awareness of Hinduism.
Addressing a rally in Rajasthan, where elections will be held on Friday, the Prime Minister took no names but appeared to take aim not just at Rahul Gandhi but also his great-grandfather Jawaharlal Nehru, India's first prime minister.
"During the elections, he (Rahul Gandhi) is saying that Modi has no knowledge (of Hinduism). Whether Modi has knowledge or not, will votes be cast in Rajasthan on this issue? Does Rajasthan want voting on electricity, water and roads or whether Modi has knowledge about Hinduism," PM Modi told a gathering in Jodhpur.
He also used his favourite "Naamdar" vs "Kamdaar" analogy. "Even the saints have never claimed that they know everything about Hinduism and Hindutva. This is such a mammoth subject that it is not possible for any human to acquire that knowledge. I can never claim to possess this knowledge, I am a small 'kaamdar (worker)'... only the 'naamdar (dynast)' know it," the Prime Minister said.
Last week, Rahul Gandhi had said at a rally in Rajasthan: "What is the essence of Hinduism? What does the Gita say? That knowledge is with everybody... Knowledge is all around you. Every living being has knowledge. Our prime minister says he is a Hindu, but he doesn't understand (the) foundation of Hinduism. What kind of a Hindu is he?"
In his riposte, PM Modi also raised Jawaharlal Nehru and first president Rajendra Prasad and said Nehru had objected to Mr Prasad's visit to the Somnath temple.
In an indirect but obvious reference to Nehru, PM Modi said a leader who wore a rose knew about gardens but not farmers or farming.
"He (Nehru) used to wear a rose and had the knowledge of gardens but did not know about farmers or farming, due to which the community faced hardship," said the PM.
The Congress, he alleged, had become a "university for spreading lies" and Rahul Gandhi had "great capacity for lying".
The results of polls in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Telangana, Chhattisgarh and Mizoram will be declared on December 11.
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