In last leg of polls, Rahul Gandhi calls PM Modi ‘panauti’; BJP demands apology

Rahul Gandhi has called Narendra Modi a
Rahul Gandhi has called Narendra Modi a "Panauti' during the last phase of elections

During the ongoing Assembly elections, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi stirred controversy by referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi as a “panauti” (bad omen), linking Modi’s presence to India’s loss against Australia at the World Cup finals held in Ahmedabad two days ago.

In response, the BJP strongly criticized Gandhi, accusing him of resorting to abusive language against the Prime Minister due to frustration over electoral setbacks.

Speaking at a public rally in Balotra, Rajasthan, Gandhi remarked, “Panauti… panauti… Our boys were about to win the World Cup, but panauti led to their defeat. Television channels may not report it, but the public knows.” Rajasthan is scheduled for polls on November 25.

A week prior, Modi had referred to Rahul as “moorkhon ka sardaar” (leader of fools) after Rahul claimed that everyone in India uses Chinese mobile handsets. Modi stated that Congress leaders suffer from a mental illness of not acknowledging India’s achievements, particularly in mobile manufacturing.

Earlier this year, Rahul Gandhi was temporarily disqualified as a Member of Parliament after a Surat court sentenced him to a two-year term for his comment on the surname Modi. He was reinstated following a Supreme Court stay on the sentence.

Demanding an apology from Gandhi for his recent remark, BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad expressed dismay at Gandhi’s use of abusive language against the Prime Minister due to frustration over electoral losses. He highlighted the Prime Minister’s support for Indian players across various sports events, mentioning their accomplishments in events like the Asiads, Olympics, and paralympics.

However, Congress’s KC Venugopal defended Gandhi’s comment, stating that Rahul expressed what many had been thinking for the past two days. Venugopal accused the BJP, including PM Modi, of regularly insulting leaders like Pandit Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi, and Rahul Gandhi with vile abuses and hypocrisy in terms of political correctness.

Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge was embroiled in controversy earlier during the Karnataka Assembly elections for his “venomous snake” jibe at the Prime Minister. Similarly, during the Gujarat Assembly elections last year, he made comments questioning Modi’s omnipresence in various elections, drawing comparisons to Ravana’s multiple heads.