- Rahul Gandhi gave the "parliament" challenge to PM 2 weeks ago
- "Modi is afraid to stand in parliament..," he said
- PM hit back saying he cannot speak "without reading from piece of paper"
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, launching a whirlwind campaign today for the election in Congress-ruled Karnataka, chose a public rally to respond to a challenge that Rahul Gandhi had thrown days ago.
"I challenge you to speak for 15 minutes on the achievements of your government in Karnataka without reading from any piece of paper. You can speak in Hindi, English or your mata ki matra-bhasha (mother's mother tongue) and mention 'Vishweshwaraiah' at least five times in the speech," PM Modi tossed at the 47-year-old Congress chief, without naming Rahul Gandhi's Italy-born mother Sonia Gandhi.
At a public meeting in Delhi earlier last month, Rahul Gandhi had referred to his party's allegations of irregularities in the government's deal for 36 Rafale fighter jets with France, and said: "Modi is afraid to stand in Parliament... If I am allowed to speak for 15 minutes on the Rafale issue in Parliament before Modi, he will not be able to face it."
The prime minister delivered his stinging retort at a rally in Chamarajanagar in north Karnataka, the first of many in the state this week.
"The Congress President has challenged me, said if he speaks for 15 minutes in parliament Modi will not be able to sit. He is correct - there is no way ordinary people like me, who do not even dress well, can sit with such high and mighty people like the Congress President," he mocked.
PM Modi, BJP president Amit Shah and Yogi Adityanath, the Chief Minister of UP, will address around 60 rallies as the party intensifies its campaign to wrest the last of the major states under Congress rule.