New Delhi: In a war of words, BJP on Monday accused Congress of playing a "cruel joke" in the name of protecting the rights of Dalits and the minorities as the latter accused the former of creating an atmosphere of fear in the country.
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said Congress has no other issue that is why they are trying to create one by holding the protest.
"Dalit community is most safe and secure under our Govt, like PM Modi has said we believe in 'sabka saath, sabka vikas'. The opposition has no issue so they are trying to create one," Rajnath Singh said.
BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra also lashed out at the Congress after a photograph appeared in which Congress leaders were seen eating before the start of a nationwide fast against the alleged communalism and non-functioning of Parliament.
"The real meaning of Satyagraha is to request for the truth (satya ke liye agrah), to bear pain, but Congress leaders were eating 'chole bhature '. This is a cruel joke. Dalits, farmers of this country will not forgive you for playing this cruel joke," Sambit Patra said.
In a press conference, BJP’s Patra accused the Congress of indulging in "politics of luxury" and said that all Congress leaders and the members of the Nehru-Gandhi family are used to it, instead of the “politics of performance”.
"The Congress has fallen into its own trap. What we have seen from Rahul Gandhi today is not a fast but the farce of a fast. (It was) an attempt by his party to fast track his politics to burnish his credentials despite people rejecting him time and again," Sambit Patra told reporters.
Earlier, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi had targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi and accused his party of "creating an atmosphere of fear" in the country.
It is BJP's ideology to oppress Dalits, Adivasis and minorities of this country," Rahul said who is leading the protest against the BJP-led government at the Centre.
Calling Prime Minister Narendra Modi "anti-Dalit", Rahul Gandhi said the grand old party (Indian National Congress) will defeat the BJP-led NDA in the 2019 general election.
"The entire country knows that PM Modi is anti-Dalit, it is not a secret… We will stand against and defeat it in 2019 general polls," Rahul Gandhi told reporters.
Referring to the recent letters written by several BJP MPs where they had expressed concerns over the oppression of Dalits, especially in Uttar Pradesh following the April 2 agitation by the Dalit community, Rahul Gandhi said that even his (PM Modi) party MP’s are calling him a "casteist".
Later, Sambit Patra responded to Rahul Gandhi's allegations and asked if the Congress president had abstained even from one meal when anti-Dalit violence had happened in places like Mirchpur, Gohana and Jhajjar when the Congress was in power.
Citing figures of anti-Dalit violence in five years of the Congress rule in the poll-bound Karnataka, he said the state had reported 9,080 cases crimes against the community and over 358 Dalits were killed.
Rahul Gandhi should tell them when he plans to sit on a fast against crimes against Dalits in Karnataka, Sambit Patra asked.
The bitter exchange of words between the two parties started when Congress announced that its party's chief, Rahul Gandhi, will be leading a day-long protest against the BJP-led government at the Centre and to promote peace and communal harmony in the country.
Congress was left red-faced when a photograph appeared in which several Congress leaders were seen eating 'chole bhature' and other delicacies at a restaurant in the capital. The photograph made the ruling party term the Congress's protest "stage-managed" and "farce".
(With inputs from agencies)...