After former Congress MP CP Joshi, another party leader Raj Babbar kicked up a controversy on Friday when he compared the rupee's falling value against the US dollar to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's mother’s age. The BJP was quick to hit back, demanding an apology from the actor-turned-politician and his party Congress president Rahul Gandhi.
"(Before becoming the prime minister) Modi used to say that compared to the (US) dollar, the value of the rupee has fallen to a level where it is almost the same as the age of the then Prime Minister (Manmohan Singh)," Babbar, the Uttar Pradesh Congress chief, said at a rally in poll-bound Madhya Pradesh's Indore city. The state goes to polls on November 28.
"Mr Prime Minister, at that time, you had not taken his (Manmohan Singh) name out of respect. Although our tradition does not allow this, we wish to say that now the value of the rupee has fallen to the age of your respected mother," he added.
The rupee has witnessed to continued to fall against the US dollar this year, hovering a little over the 70-mark on Friday. Modi's mother Hiraba is a nonagenarian.
Demanding an apology from Babbar and Gandhi, BJP’s national spokesperson Sambit Patra said it was not proper to use unparliamentary words or drag any person's mother into politics.
"But the Congress' attitude against the prime minister's mother has been improper from the beginning and such language was used even against the prime minister," he claimed.
"Rahul Gandhi should apologise and he should clarify whether he endorses such controversial statements," Patra told reporters in Indore.
Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani said the Congress was frustrated as it was losing public support, and Babbar’s comment was out of that frustration.
"Congress leaders are stooping very low and making such repulsive comments. In politics, people need to behave responsibly. I condemn Raj Babbar's remark," he told reporters in Ahmedabad.
Congress is stooping low, below its dignity & making nasty comments. One should maintain dignity in politics. I condemn this. Comparing RupeeVSDollar to the age of Modi ji's mother shows his (Raj Babbar) mentality. He should immediately issue an apology: Gujarat CM Vijay Rupani pic.twitter.com/Ctk3Ulehgu— ANI (@ANI) November 23, 2018
"Comparing the value of the rupee against the (US) dollar with Modiji's mother (age) shows his (Babbar) cheap mentality. Since the Congress is losing people's support and losing elections, their leaders are making such comments out of frustration."
Earlier in the day, senior Congress leader from Rajasthan Joshi apologised for his casteist remarks after Gandhi disapproved his comments and asked him to express regret. Gandhi also asked other party leaders to refrain from making such statements which hurt any segment of society.
The BJP, however, rejected Joshi's apology, saying the remarks "insulted" Indian culture and the Hindu religion, and dared Gandhi to expel him from the Congress.
Addressing a poll meeting in poll-bound Rajasthan on Thursday, Joshi had reportedly said Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP MP Uma Bharti and Hindu activist Sadhvi Ritambhara are from "lower castes" and know nothing of Hinduism. He had said it is the Brahmins who are learned and know of Hinduism.
"Respecting the principles of the Congress party and the sentiments of party workers, I feel sorry if my statement has hurt the feelings of any section of society," Joshi said in a tweet in Hindi.
(With PTI inputs)