- Rahul Gandhi alleged that PM Modi "lacks knowledge of Hinduism"
- The Congress chief also criticised PM Modi's style of governance
- "It confirms all personal attacks on PM are sanctioned by him," said BJP
Amid criticism over his newly revealed "gotra", recent temple visits in poll-bound states, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi hit back at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and questioned his "knowledge of Hinduism".
"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?" Mr Gandhi said during a rally in Rajasthan.
The Congress is now preaching us about Hinduism... They are giving us lessons of Gita, mocked BJP national president Amit Shah.
A few weeks ago, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra had controversially asked the Congress president: "What's your gotra?"
He is a "Dattatreya" and a Kashmiri Brahmin, said a priest, who claimed to have old records of the Nehru-Gandhi family tree. "Gotra" refers to a clan or descendants from a common ancestor.
From "Vatican gotra ka Brahmin" to "gotra Itlus"-- a dig at the Italian origin of his mother Sonia Gandhi -- Mr Gandhi has been constantly targeted by the BJP, prompting him to declare, "The BJP people don't understand the Hindu religion at all. My understanding of Hinduism is better than theirs."
However, a few days ago, Rahul Gandhi had pulled up senior Congress leader CP Joshi and asked him to apologise for his controversial comment that "only Brahmins know enough to talk about Hinduism".
"CP Joshi's comments are against the Congress party's principles," the Congress chief had said.
Neck-deep in high-octane poll campaign in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and other states, the BJP said that Mr Gandhi's latest statement on PM Modi confirms that "all personal attacks on PM are sanctioned by Rahul Gandhi".
"Rahul Gandhi picks up from where CP Joshi left. Questions PM's Hinduism implying he is someone from lower caste and unworthy of holding the high constitutional office or even commenting on Hinduism! It also establishes that all personal attacks on PM are sanctioned by Rahul," tweeted BJP's Amit Malviya.
Rahul Gandhi also hit out at PM Modi comparing his style of governance with that of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
"I saw Mr Vajpayee. He used to fight us. We used to fight him. But his tone, language were different. The man had character. We disagreed with him on so many things, but we said we will fight him politically," the Congress leader told the gathering in Udaipur.
Referring to the surgical strikes on terror launch pads across the Line of Control (LoC) in 2016, Mr Gandhi accused PM Modi of turning the army's 2016 surgical strike into a "political asset".
"Like during the Narendra Modi government, surgical strike was conducted thrice during Manmohan Singh government. Are you aware of it? When the army came to Mr Singh and said we needed to retaliate, they also said we wanted it to be secret. But (Narendra) Modi ji actually reached into the Army's domain and turned their surgical strike into a political asset when it was actually a military decision," he said.