The Congress on Friday refuted BJP chief JP Nadda’s allegation that Rahul Gandhi compared OBC communities to thieves, and accused the ruling party of defending the likes of fugitives Nirav Modi and Lalit Modi, and indulging in “caste politics”.
Amid a political fight between the BJP and Congress following Mr Gandhi’s conviction in a defamation case over the “Modi surname” remarks, Mr Nadda alleged that “lies, personal slander and negative politics are integral” to his politics.
“By comparing OBC communities to thieves, Rahul Gandhi has shown a pathetic and casteist mindset. However, his latest tirade is not surprising. For the last many years, he has always reduced levels of political discourse,” Mr Nadda said.
Hitting back, Mallikarjun Kharge, in a tweet in Hindi, said, “Modi government cannot escape from JPC! Nirav Modi, Lalit Modi, and Mehul Choksi fled with the money of PNB and the public. OBCs did not do so, then how were they insulted?” “SBI/LIC suffered losses due to your ‘best friend’!” he said, slamming the government.
“‘Ek toh chori mein sahyog phir jatigat rajneeti ka prayog‘ (First providing help in stealing then applying caste politics),” Mr Kharge said, and termed it “shameful”.
Later, interacting with reporters, the Congress president said his party is seeking answers as to who ran away with people’s money, while the BJP is trying to distract from the main issue.
“They are talking of insult to backward classes. The Congress has always stood with and fought for the backward classes, scheduled castes and minorities. These people, who believe in Manu, talk of backward classes,” Mr Kharge said.
Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh also lashed out at Mr Nadda, saying he was distorting facts and indulging in “politics of defamation”.
“By doing this, he is defending Nirav Modi and Lalit Modi. This truth had to come out, and now it has come out. Thank you, Nadda ji, for your honesty. Now please show some honesty on Adani too,” Mr Ramesh said in a tweet in Hindi.
He also hit out at Union Minister Bhupender Yadav who attacked the Congress for raising questions on the Gujarat court convicting Rahul Gandhi in the criminal defamation case.
“Bhupendra Yadav should spend more time implementing environment and forest laws without fear or favour. Instead, he is busy defending Nirav Modi and Lalit Modi. These two have stolen thousands of crores of public money and are fugitives running from justice in India,” Mr Ramesh said.
Rahul Gandhi was on Thursday sentenced to two years in jail by a Surat court in a 2019 criminal defamation case over his “why all thieves have Modi surname” remarks.
The court of Chief Judicial Magistrate HH Varma, which held 52-year-old Mr Gandhi guilty under Indian Penal Code (IPC) sections 499 and 500, also granted him bail and suspended the sentence for 30 days to allow him to appeal in a higher court.
Mr Gandhi can escape immediate disqualification as a member of parliament if the appellate court suspends the conviction as well as the two-year jail term.