Jaipur/New Delhi, Nov 21 (PTI) "PM means Panauti Modi," Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said on Tuesday insinuating that Prime Minister Narendra Modi brings bad luck, with the BJP denouncing his comment as "shameful and disgraceful" and demanding an apology.
Addressing a rally in Balotra in Rajasthan ahead of the November 25 assembly polls, Gandhi referred to India's loss to Australia in the Cricket World Cup final in Ahmedabad Sunday with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the stands.
He alleged Modi diverts people's attention while industrialist Adani picks their pockets.
He said Modi "comes on TV and says 'Hindu-Muslim' and sometimes goes to a cricket match. It is a different matter that the match was lost. Panauti." "PM means Panauti Modi," Gandhi said.
The word 'panauti' has been trending on social media since the defeat in the match, attended by Prime Minister Modi at the Ahmedabad stadium named after him.
Gandhi's 'panauti' barb at Modi came on a day the prime minister shared a short video of his interaction with the Indian cricketers in their dressing room soon after their defeat.
Lashing out at Gandhi for his remarks, the BJP demanded an apology from him for his "shameful and disgraceful" utterances.
Union minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar said his comments are a sign of desperation and mental instability.
"There is more than irony or hypocrisy at work here - that a 55 years old who has never worked a day in his life, whose family has exploited the country like parasites for decades with their corruption and whose govt destroyed the country economically in the lost decade," he said.
The reason is that Modi is a nightmare "for the crooks of the Congress, for enemies of India and terrorists", he said.
"For all others, he is the world's most popular political leader, whose experience, hard work, vision have transformed the lives of people, grown our economy and earned respect all over India and the world - from silicon valley to our villages - from tech to farmers," he said on X.
Senior BJP leader and former Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said Gandhi's remarks about the prime minister of the country were "shameful, condemnable and disgraceful".
He has shown his true colours but he must remember as to how the Congress sank in Gujarat after his mother Sonia Gandhi called Modi, the then chief minister of the state, "maut ka saudagar", Prasad said.
"I vehemently condemn Rahul Gandhi's comment about the prime minister," he told reporters when asked about the Congress leader's remarks.
"Rahul Gandhi must apologise...else we will make this issue very serious," the BJP leader said.
Hitting back at the BJP for its criticism of Rahul Gandhi, the Congress said the ruling party should be the last one to talk about political correctness after hurling "vile abuses" at the likes of former prime ministers Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi.
Congress general secretary K C Venugopal said, "Rahul ji has said what many have been thinking since 2 days! The World Cup finals was a moment of pride for 140 crore Indians and we were all looking forward to this historic occasion, but they were desperate to hijack it for their political mileage." "The BJP should be the last one to talk about political correctness. These Godse bhakts, including PM Modi, who have regularly insulted Pandit Nehru, Indira Gandhi ji, Sonia ji and Rahul ji with the most vile abuses are finding it difficult to digest the harsh truth," Venugopal said.
Addressing an election rally in Madhya Pradesh a few days ago, Prime Minister Modi had dubbed Rahul Gandhi "moorkhon ka sardar" (leader of fools).
On Tuesday, the prime minister shared a video on social media of his meeting with the Indian cricket squad soon after the final at Ahmedabad's Narendra Modi Stadium, and said, "India stands with them today and always." In an apparent reference to the video, Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said it was "choreographed" and called Modi the "master of drama".
"The video of the self-imposed, choreographed consolation by the 'Master Of Drama in India' has completely exposed the insincerity behind the photographs released yesterday. The face-saving exercise has backfired. The youth of India will not be fooled by these desperate antics," Ramesh said in a post on X. PTI SDA AG KR PK ASK SKC SMN SMN