Dubbing Narendra Modi as India's "first authentic fascist", Union minister Jairam Ramesh on Thursday conceded that the BJP leader poses a "challenge" for the Congress party in the coming elections.
"He will certainly impose a challenge on us. He represents not just a managerial challenge. But he also represents an ideological challenge," Ramesh, who has been one of the key Congress strategists, told.
This is perhaps for the first time that any Congress leader has spoken about Modi as a "challenge" as the party till now was generally dismissive of him, suggesting that his influence was only restricted to Gujarat.
The minister, however, dismissed suggestions that the Congress was afraid of the Gujarat chief minister. "Why should we be afraid of Modi? Yes he won three elections in Gujarat. No doubt, he was a formidable campaigner," the minister said when asked whether Modi posed a challenge for the Congress in the 2014 elections. The Congress leader said that Modi is a "fact of life" as he was elevated by the BJP as chairman of its election board panel.
"We have to be content with that reality ... If BJP wants to commit suicide, why should we stop them," he said. Taking a dig at developments in BJP, Ramesh described Modi as "Bhasmasur", a mythological character known for trying to destroy his creator, and said the Gujarat chief minister has "consumed" his mentor LK Advani.
Ramesh also compared his party leader Rahul Gandhi and Modi — the two possible prime ministerial candidate for the 2014 elections, saying while Gandhi was trying to create a structure and a system in the country, Modi "is saying he is the system and the structure".
"Modi is Bhasmasur. He will consume the people who have created him. He has consumed his mentor, Mr Advani. He has consumed Togadia, one of his co-conspirator in 2002 and he is nothing but a Bhasmasur," the minister said.
Bhasmasur was a demon who was granted the power by Lord Shiva to destroy anyone whose head he touched with his hand. When Shiva granted him the power, Bhasmasur attempted to touch the head of the Lord with his hand because he saw his wife Parvati and wanted to possess her.