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BJP's swipe at Rahul: He could not contest from Amethi but speaking of forming govt

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New Delhi, May 11 (PTI) The BJP on Saturday made light of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi's readiness for a debate with Prime Minister Narendra Modi as it questioned his knowledge of issues and his standing, noting that he is neither the president of his party nor the leader of the opposition.

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Addressing a press conference, BJP spokesperson Sudhanshu Trivedi also took a swipe at Gandhi over his claim that the opposition INDIA bloc will win the Lok Sabha polls, saying someone who could not file his nomination from Amethi is speaking about forming government at the Centre.

"Phenomenon thy name is Rahul Gandhi," he said mockingly.

Gandhi, who lost Amethi to Irani in the 2019 general elections, has this time been fielded by the Congress from Rae Bareli and is contesting against BJP's Dinesh Pratap Singh. Gandhi family aide Kishori Lal Sharma is taking on Irani in Amethi. Trivedi asked that in what capacity is Gandhi looking to debate with Modi as he is merely an MP of his party.

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In the Congress, one MP heads a yatra while its leaders in both the Houses of Parliament stand behind him. While Mallikarjun Kharge is its president, Gandhi's posters are visible, he said, jeering at the opposition party.

Some prominent citizens, including a former Supreme Court judge, had recently written to Modi and Gandhi, urging them to engage in a public debate on the Lok Sabha elections.

The former Congress president said he was ready for such a debate and claimed that the prime minister would not agree to it.

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Targeting Gandhi, Trivedi told reporters that he recently dragged the issue of upper castes and Dalit representation while speaking about IITs, which, the BJP leader said, were set up by Jawaharlal Nehru in collaboration with different foreign countries.

Whether one can debate with him can be understood with the level of his knowledge on different issues, he said, adding that many people have challenged Gandhi for a debate as well.

Trivedi also had a go at Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal over jubilation in the Aam Aadmi Party following his interim bail, saying he has joined a elite club of politicians who have returned from jail.

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Earlier Anna Hazare was his guru and now it is Lalu Prasad Yadav, the RJD president who has been convicted in multiple corruption cases, and its impact is clearly visible, he said.

One can see how the so-called new politics Kejriwal claimed to launch has become the same old politics in the company of the Congress, Trivedi said.

At the press conference, the BJP leader alleged that Maharashtra Congress chief Nana Patole had insulted President Droupadi Murmu, who comes from a tribal community, with his comments that the Ram mandir will be purified once the opposition comes to power.

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Patole had accused Modi of violating religious protocol in the temple's inauguration.

Trivedi said his comments have come soon after Murmu has visited the temple.

It is a deep insult of Murmu and has brought forth the malice the Congress has for the deprived community, he alleged.

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With Patole referring to the critical remarks of some shankaracharyas about the inauguration ceremony, Trivedi said all religious leaders drawn from across the country had supported the demand for a Ram temple at a "Dharam Sansad" in 1989 and that one of the persons chosen for the "shilanyas" ceremony was a Dalit.

The Congress opposed these developments, he added.

It is organisations with similar ideological bent as the BJP which worked to promote and preserve the culture and traditions of the disadvantaged communities, Trivedi said.

He cited alleged critical comments about the temple from opposition leaders like Ram Gopal Yadav and Congress members like Sam Pitroda besides past remarks of DMK functionaries flaying Sanatan Dharma to hit out at these parties.

It is clear that their claim about eradicating Sanatan Dharma is not merely confined to words but is visible in action as well, he said. PTI KR ANB ANB

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