Congress chief Rahul Gandhi ended the Karnataka campaign on Thursday with a sharp retaliation to BJP's jibe on his mother and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi's Italian descent, saying she was "more Indian than many Indians I have met".
Addressing a press conference in Bengaluru, Gandhi said, "My mother is Italian, My mother has lived larger part of her life in India. My mother sacrificed for this country. If the PM likes to abuse her, he may do so if it pleases him."
Ahead of Sonia Gandhi's rally in Karnataka held earlier this week, the BJP tweeted: "Today, Ms. Antonio Maino is here in K'taka to save her last citadel from falling! Madam Maino, K'taka needs no lessons from the person who was solely responsible for wasting India's 10 precious years. And to Congress, need to remind you of your 'import' jibe?"
Earlier, during a rally in Karnataka, PM Modi had again raked up Gandhi's Italian roots saying, "I challenge you (Rahul Gandhi) 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 mother tongue."
At the press conference, Rahul Gandhi accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of "decimating" the foreign policy. "The PM went to China after the Chinese entered Doklam, but didn't speak a word on Doklam. The policy of the Congress was to pass on the benefits of international crude oil prices to the people of India. But the Modi Govt is passing on the benefits to its friends. Our foreign policy has been decimated and this is because of PM incorrect handling of the situation."
He also slammed PM Modi over his remarks of rape not being a political issue. "Are you trying to say that politicians should remain silent while the women of this country are raped? Atrocities against women is absolutely a political and a national issue. Mr. Modi likes to discuss bullet train and other issues but does not like to discuss fundamental issues," he said.
Questioning PM Modi's silence on the Dalit protests, the Congress president added, "Rohith Vemula gets killed when he stands up for education and PM Modi doesn't even say a word. I am happy that at least I do raise the issue. Why don't PM Modi raise this issue? Congress will defend the rights of Dalits & raise this issue."
To PM Modi taunting him as "arrogant and immature" over his prime ministerial ambitions, Gandhi said it was BJP's attempt to distract the people of Karnataka. "I have now learned to deal with the prime minister. When he can't respond, he distracts. This election is not about Rahul. It is about future of Karnataka," he said.
Gandhi also took on the BJP for repeatedly attacking him over his temple visits. "The BJP doesn't understand the term Hindu. It's a perspective. It's something which lives with you throughout. When BJP uses the term Hindu it defines their own perspective of the religion." Gandhi also added that the personal remarks are made against him because PM Modi views him as a threat. "Modi has anger inside? he has anger for everybody, not just me ?and sees a threat in me."