PTI, RAIPUR: Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said Monday Congress chief Rahul Gandhi was trying to build his image as a "Shiv bhakt" with his temple visits, but warned him that the BJP would not tolerate this "drama" because a "small-time" leader of his party is repeatedly insulting Hindu gods.
Prasad was referring to Gandhi's visit to the Mahakaleshwar Temple in Ujjain on Monday as part of his two-day visit to poll-bound Madhya Pradesh and Kerala MP Shashi Tharoor's reported remarks last week against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Shivlinga.
Tharoor reportedly claimed that an unnamed RSS source had told a journalist that Modi was like a scorpion sitting on a Shivlinga which cannot be removed by hand or hit with a slipper.
"Congress president Rahul Gandhi today visited a temple in Ujjain. I wish him on his new Shiv bhakti. With this temple run, he is trying to build his identity as a Shiv Bhakt but a leader of his party Shashi Tharoor has made objectionable statements against Shivlinga," Prasad said at a press conference.
"On one hand Rahul Gandhi visits Mahakal Temple in Ujjain and pays obeisance there, on the other one of his 'chhutbhaiya' leader insults gods and deities," he claimed.
"Rahul ji, this drama (of piety) will not be tolerated," Prasad added.
"He (Tharoor) has not done such a thing for the first time. Earlier also, he had said that India is turning into a Hindu Taliban," Prasad remarked.
The Union minister also attacked the Congress chief on the Rafale deal, claiming Gandhi was playing with national security and making statements similar to the ones made in Pakistan.
He said Pakistan was raising questions on the Rafale deal as it did not want India to have such sophisticated aircraft.
"For the first time, the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government had made efforts to increase the strength of the Air Force. After the UPA came to power, it could not even decide on the procurement of the jets."
Prasad said the UPA government had held talks with Dassault to buy Rafale jets and had shortlisted the firm in July 2012 but then, six months later, had claimed that it wanted to re-negotiate the deal.
He further alleged that the UPA government during its tenure did not ink any weapons deal because the "Gandhi family" wanted "dakshina".
Quoting from an interview of Dassault Aviation CEO (Eric Trappier) published in an English daily three days ago, Prasad said the CEO had clarified that the French firm's relationship with the Anil Ambani-led firm was since 2012, when the UPA was in power.
Accusing Gandhi of lying, Prasad said Rs 30,000 crore worth of spares for the Rafale fighter jets, which would be made in India, would be distributed among 100 different companies.
The share of Reliance Defence in this is merely Rs 850 crore, he said.
The Reliance Group, too, has denied the Congress's allegations.
Prasad also spoke on the threat from naxals in poll-bound Chhattisgarh and alleged that the previous Manmohan Singh government did not launch any major offensive against the Maoist rebels.
This, he alleged, was because "Maoist patrons" were in the Advisory Committee headed by UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi.
"You very well know how many Maoists were linked to the Congress party. The Manmohan Singh government did not take effective action against Maoists as their patrons were in the advisory committee of Sonia Gandhi," Prasad claimed.
Speaking about "urban Maoists", Prasad said, "They want to run the country but if they fought an election, their deposits would be forfeited."
He said the government accepted one's right to speak and criticise, but not the right to shout slogans against the unity and integrity of the country.
"You don't have a right to break the country," he said.
Prasad claimed the NDA government had successfully managed to bring the district affected by naxalism from 150 to around 75-80 now.
Incidentally, Prasad's public meeting in Dantewada in poll-bound Chhattisgarh was cancelled due to security reasons.