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Rahul Gandhi Counters BJP's Temple Jibe, Says 'Don't Need Permission' to Pray

Rahul Gandhi also made it clear that the language used by family loyalist Mani Shankar Aiyar against the Prime Minister during the heat of the campaign was “unacceptable” to the party.

Pallavi Ghosh | CNN-News18_pallavighosh

Updated:December 13, 2017, 7:51 PM IST

New Delhi: Congress President-elect Rahul Gandhi wants to bring about a badlav or change by ending the culture of personal attacks in India’s political discourse.

Referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's recent comments during Gujarat election campaign, Rahul Gandhi, in an exclusive interview to Network18, said "Manmohan Singh dedicated his entire life to the country. But the way Modiji spoke is not acceptable. He should have apologised, that is his decision. But we want to bring about this change."

In a no-holds-barred attack, PM Modi had alluded in one of his speeches during the last phase of campaign in Gujarat that the Congress leadership was “conspiring” with Pakistan to defeat the BJP in the Assembly elections.

Rahul claimed that, unlike the BJP, he does not make personal attacks on his political opponents.

BJP aur Narendra Modi ji zaroor karte hain. Bura to lagta hai (BJP and Narendra Modi do this. We feel bad),” Gandhi said.

Gandhi also made it clear that the language used by family loyalist Mani Shankar Aiyar against the Prime Minister during the heat of the campaign was “unacceptable” to the party.

“Modiji is the PM of India and we are not going to tolerate this type of language,” Gandhi said, referring to a television interview where Aiyar had called PM Modi a "neech aadmi" (vile man).

On Gujarat poll results, Gandhi expressed confidence that the Congress will "surprise" everyone on counting day (December 18), but the party president-elect shied away from calling the election outcome a referendum on his leadership.

"We will do very well. We will surprise you,” Gandhi said.

Earlier this week, the Gandhi family scion was elected unopposed as the next party president. After leading the party for close to two decades, Sonia Gandhi will formally hand over the baton to her son on December 16, just two days ahead of counting in Gujarat.

"My challenge as Congress president will be to ask questions for the people," Gandhi said in the interview.

"The Prime Minister has lost credibility,” he added, “as he doesn't talk about development anymore but about himself and the Congress party.”

During the Gujarat elections campaign, the Congress Vice-Preident addressed more than 30 rallies and visited many temples. The tactical shift in Congress' strategy was seen as a conscious attempt to soften any attempts to polarise the elections on communal lines.

"I don't need the BJP's permission to go to temples. Was Kedarnath in Gujarat?” Rahul said on being asked if this was an attempt to pursue a soft-Hindutva line by the party.

| Edited by: Huma Tabassum
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