Bengaluru: Karnataka’s BJP chief Nalin Kumar Kateel Tuesday whipped up a controversy by calling former Congress president Rahul Gandhi a “drug addict” and “drug peddler” during a party event in Hubballi.
“This is your (Congress’) story. Your national president is out on bail, your national vice president (sic) is also on bail. He should have been ideally in jail but has begged the courts to give him bail. Even your state president is out on bail,” Kateel, who is also a Lok Sabha MP from Karnataka, told the gathering of BJP workers.
“What morality do you have? Sonia Gandhi says she is the AICC president but your leaders say they want Rahul Gandhi as president. Who is Rahul Gandhi? He’s a drug peddler and a drug addict. I am not saying this, it was reported once. How will such people run a party?”
Kateel’s comments on Rahul Gandhi comes barely three weeks after he called former Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah a “terrorist”.
“I feel that Siddaramaiah is a terrorist”, Kateel was reported as saying in response to Siddaramaiah’s criticism of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
The remarks against Gandhi has led to scores of Congress leaders demanding an apology from the BJP state president and his ouster.
“His ignorance and level of language is shocking. I demand that the BJP reprimand and sack him immediately,” said Dinesh Gundu Rao, AICC in-charge of Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Goa in a video statement released to the media.
The former KPCC president added that Kateel’s statements were reflective of “BJP’s culture”.
“Is this language befitting of a state president of a party or even an MP? Modi and Shah are promoting such people everywhere, people who incite hatred, make irresponsible statements, creating disturbance,” Rao added.
Congress’ course correction
Kateel’s personal attacks on Rahul Gandhi comes barely hours after Congress’ Karnataka president D.K. Shivakumar expressed regret for the party’s official Twitter handle running a distasteful campaign Monday.
“I have always believed that civil and parliamentary language is a non-negotiable prerequisite for political discourse. An uncivil tweet made by a novice social media manager through the Karnataka Congress official Twitter handle is regretted and stands withdrawn,” Shivakumar had tweeted late Monday night.
The tweet came after KPCC’s official handle put up a bunch of tweets deeming Prime Minister Narendra Modi “illiterate”. Shivakumar referred to his course correction Tuesday demanding the BJP respond in a similar manner.
“Yesterday I said I believe we should be civil and respectful in politics, even to our opponents. I hope the BJP agrees with me, and will apologise for their state president’s abusive and unparliamentary remarks against Shri Rahul Gandhi,” Shivakumar tweeted in response to Kateel’s allegations.
(Edited by Paramita Ghosh)