Bengaluru: Congress chief Rahul Gandhi's admission that he is ready for the job of the nation's Prime Minister has drawn swift reprisal from the man he hopes to replace. Prime Minister Narendra Modi today accused the 47-year-old of "sky-high arrogance".
- At a rally in Karnataka, PM Modi accuses Rahul Gandhi of being arrogant
- "He (Rahul Gandhi) declared himself to be Prime Minister in 2019: PM Modi
- "Can the people accept such an immature 'naamdar' as PM?": PM Modi
PM Modi's response came at the first of his four rallies today in Karnataka, a day after Rahul Gandhi said he was "ready to be prime minister if his party emerged as the single largest".
Without naming Mr Gandhi, PM Modi said, "There are leaders waiting for 40 years... He came like those bullies, barging his way ahead when there are others who have many years of experience. How can someone just declare himself as the PM? Does this not show that his level of arrogance has touched the skies?"
The Prime Minister also once again hurled the term "Naamdaar" -- one who makes his way by virtue of his name -- a moniker he has used repeatedly to target the Congress president.
Referring to attempts by various opposition groups to forge anti-BJP fronts, PM Modi said, "big meetings are happening, big stalwarts are meeting" to remove him from power. But "keeping them in the dark", Mr Gandhi declared he will be the prime minister, he said. "Can the people accept such an immature 'naamdar' that declares himself as the Prime Minister of 2019?" added the Prime Minister.
This is not the first time Mr Gandhi has spoken about his prime ministerial ambition. During an interaction at the premier campus of UC Berkeley in September, he said he was "absolutely ready" for the job. Since then, party insiders said, he has spoken of it, but only in off-record conversation with journalists.
Accusing Mr Gandhi of having "neither performance nor hard work" on his side, the BJP said he did not even have the support of the Congress or the country.
"Even the parties you think you fight 2019 with aren't ready for that. He neither consulted Didi (Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee), nor Bhaiya (Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav)," said BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said.
The BJP has for long projected Rahul Gandhi of being a product of dynastic politics lacking in experience and maturity -- its leaders have often used the pejorative "Pappu", which has come to mean an idiot, for him.