Even as protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act continued across the country on Friday, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress hit out at each other, with Union Minister Prakash Javadekar calling Rahul Gandhi the "liar of the year", while the Congress hitting back at the saffron party for resorting to “personal attacks”.
Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera also alleged that there was "star wars" in the top leadership of the BJP with one saying something in Parliament and the other saying something else at Ramlila Maidan, an apparent reference to Home Minister Amit Shah's remarks and Prime Minister Narendra Modi's comments at a rally.
"Rahul Gandhi from every platform asks tough questions. The government of the day is either too arrogant to respond to these questions which the people want answers to or the government has no answers to cover their failures. They hide behind abuse, very low, very petty level of narrative, to make it a personal attack," he told reporters.
Khera's remarks came in response to Javadekar accusing the Congress of trying to fan instability in the country.
"When Rahul Gandhi was Congress president, he would say anything and speak lies all the time. Now he is no longer president but continues to speak lies. If there were a category of the liar of the year, he would be its recipient. His comments used to embarrass his family. His lies now embarrass his party and the entire country," Javadekar told reporters.
Likening the National Population Register (NPR) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC) with demonetisation, former Congress president Gandhi said in Chhattisgarh that these exercises are "tax" on the poor, who will suffer the same way they did after the note ban in November 2016.
Khera said the Congress has a responsibility as an opposition party to voice the concerns and articulate the questions of unemployed youths of this country with unemployment touching a 45-year-old low.
The party has a responsibility to voice the concerns of all those victims of bad economic policies, of the victims of demonetisation and a flawed GST, of small traders, of the women who do not feel safe at all in this country, he said.
"The Congress will continue to ask these uncomfortable questions -- why is the youth unemployed, why did you mess up the economy, why are the women of India unsafe. Rahul Gandhi has taught us not to be scared," Khera said. PTI ASK
Javadekar said the BJP had two demands from the Congress -- first it should stop lying and that people should not be misled by its comments.
Gandhi should also visit the hospital in Rajasthan's Kota, where the Congress is in power, as 77 children died there in a month, Javadekar said.
The Congress should also stop making loan waiver promises as it had never honoured those, he added.
Asked about the announcements by states ruled by opposition parties such as West Bengal and Kerala that they would not carry out the NPR exercise, the Union minister said such a decision was an "insult" to and a "betrayal" of the poor.
To a question on allegations of police excesses in Uttar Pradesh, he said an inquiry was on.
Asked about Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan's tweets against the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Javadekar claimed that the neighbouring country and the Congress were speaking the same language.