VARANASI: Congress leader Sanjay Nirupam said Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the "modern-day Aurangzeb" who has destroyed hundreds of temples in Varanasi.
"After coming to Varanasi I saw that hundreds of temples have been destroyed in the city. There is also a newly-imposed Rs 550 fee for the darshan of Lord Vishwanath. I feel that Prime Minister Modi is a modern-day Aurangzeb. He has succeeded in destroying those temples which the people of Banaras defended even during the peak of Aurangzeb's cruel regime," Nirupam told reporters here on Tuesday.
"I condemn the modern day Aurangzeb who has imposed a jizya (tax) on the devotees for visiting their lord. The irony is Narendra Modi talks about protecting Hindu beliefs and rights and breaks temples. I condemn his acts," he added.
Nirupam also defended Congress' claims on surgical strikes, adding that under his party's government, the Army had divided Pakistan into two countries.
"BJP has now come on the back foot because we revealed the truth that surgical strikes took place even under Congress rule. The power of Indian Army during our rule was so much that we were able to split Pakistan into two," he claimed.
Nirupam also targeted BJP for dragging late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in the elections and accepted Modi's challenge to fight elections in North Delhi on his name. He also said that the day the former Prime Minister's name was taken, BJP leader Smriti Irani's loss from Amethi was ascertained.
"We are ready to fight elections in the name of the former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. The day he (PM Modi) took Rajivji's name, he ensured Smriti Irani will lose Amethi by at least two and a half lakh votes," he said.
"I am challenging the Congress from this dais that when polling takes place in the remaining phases in Punjab, Delhi, and Bhopal, let it fight the elections in the name of Rajiv Gandhi. I am hopeful that the Congress will accept this challenge," Modi had earlier said at a rally held in Jharkhand.
Varanasi will see polling on May 19 in the last phase of the seven-phase Lok Sabha polls. Results will be declared on May 23.