Rahul Gandhi has repeatedly criticised the Narendra Modi government over the Central Vista Project
Union minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Friday hit back at the Congress for attacking the government over its Central Vista redevelopment project, saying the party's discourse is "bizarre" as its leaders themselves had supported the idea when the UPA was in power.
The accusation comes hours after Congress leader Rahul Gandhi criticised the Narendra Modi government for executing the project, terming it a "criminal wastage", while asking the dispensation to focus on people's lives during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Congress's discourse on Central Vista is bizarre. Cost of Central Vista is about Rs 20,000 crore, over several years. GoI has allocated nearly twice that amount for vaccination! India's healthcare budget for just this year was over Rs 3 lakh crore. We know our priorities," Mr Puri tweeted.
In a series of tweets, the Union housing and urban affairs minister, whose ministry is executing the government's ambitious project, said the Central Vista is not a new project and alleged that during the UPA government, Congress leaders had written about the need for a new parliament.
"Congress doesn't stop at hypocrisy. Look at their shameful double face. During UPA, Congress leaders wrote about the need for a new parliament. The Speaker in 2012 wrote a letter to Urban Development Ministry for the same. And now they have the gall to oppose the same project?" he said.
"They want to distract people from monumental governance failures in their states by spreading lies. So they indulge in cheap politics despite knowing this project creates direct & indirect employment for thousands of skilled, semi-skilled & unskilled workers in these times," he alleged in another tweet.
Mr Puri also accused the Congress and its allies of splurging on reconstructing an MLA hostel in Maharashtra and building a new Legislative Assembly building in Chhattisgarh, adding that "If this is fine, what is the problem with Central Vista?"
Earlier in the day, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi alleged in a tweet: "Central Vista is criminal wastage. Put people's lives at the centre- not your blind arrogance to get a new house!"
Mr Puri said there are hundreds of projects being executed by various departments and added that governance has not come to a standstill, unlike the Congress's times of policy paralysis.
"...Central Vista is just another ongoing project. It's only the Congress that's obsessed about it, nobody else." Mr Puri said.
Besides the new Parliament building, the redevelopment of the Central Vista the nation's power corridor envisages a common central secretariat, revamping of the 3-km Rajpath from Rashtrapati Bhavan to India Gate, new Prime Minister's Residence and Prime Minister's Office, and a new Vice-President Enclave.
In another tweet, Mr Puri said only projects for new Parliament building and rejuvenation of Central Vista Avenue have been awarded at an estimated cost of Rs 862 crore and Rs 477 crore respectively till now.
He also said there are many components in Central Vista project which are spread over several years.
The work on the new Parliament building and revamping the Rajpath has started. The government has set a target of holding the 2022 Republic Day parade on "modernised" Rajpath.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)