BENGALURU: Congress president Rahul Gandhi said today Prime Minister Narendra Modi saw a "threat" in him, and the attack by him over his prime ministerial ambition was only aimed at "distracting attention".
Gandhi also hit out at Modi for raking up the issue of UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi's foreign origin, saying "my mother is Italian" but she was "more Indian" than many Indians.
"This election is not about Rahul. I have now learnt to deal with the Prime Minister. When he can't respond, he distracts," Gandhi told reporters responding to questions about Modi's repeated attacks on him over his prime ministerial ambition.
Training his guns on Gandhi after he publicly declared his Prime Ministerial ambition at an interaction here, Modi had wondered whether the country will ever accept such an "immature and naamdar (dynast)" leader for the post.
Hitting out at Modi for his reference to Sonia's foreign origin, Gandhi said,"My mother is an Italian. She has lived the larger part of her life in India. She is more Indian than many, many Indians I have seen."
"She has sacrificed her life for the country, she has suffered for the country. When Modi makes such comments, it shows the quality of the man. I am happy if he enjoys making such comments, he is welcome," he said.
The issue of Sonia Gandhi's foreign origin was raked up by Modi at an election rally recently where he dared the Congress chief to speak for 15 minutes about the achievements of the Karnataka government in any language, including his "mother's mother tongue".
The Congress president, who wrapped up his extensive campaign tour of Karnataka with a press conference, referred to a story about Gautam Buddha to claim the Prime Minister had "anger" for everybody.
He said once Buddha was abused and shouted at by an angry man while he was seated with a disciple.
When the disciple asked Buddha why did he not retaliate, he said the anger belonged to that man, and that since he did not accept the abuse, it went back to that person.
"Modi has anger inside him and he has got anger for everybody not only for me. I attract that anger because he sees a threat in me. His anger is his problem, not my problem," Gandhi said.
On Modi's personal attacks, Gandhi said, "I have now learned to deal with him, when he realises that he is coming into a space where there is no escape then he distracts and creates anger. We will not let him distract and create anger."
Spearheading the BJP's campaign, Modi had launched a scathing attack on Gandhi over his Prime Ministerial ambitions yesterday.
Gandhi hit back hard at the BJP for mocking him over visiting temples and calling him an "election Hindu" who remembered Hindu shrines only during polls.
Maintaining that the BJP feels "uncomfortable" about his temple visits, Gandhi said, "I don't think they understand the term Hindu, because the term Hindu is a perspective, it is something that is in the heart, it is imbibed.
"There are different beliefs. As a leader of a political party it is my job to stand with them in their beliefs," he said.
On the purchase of Rafale fighter jets which the BJP and the prime minister have claimed was a good deal, Gandhi said, "It is a very good deal for the prime minister and his businessman friend, who has a Rs 45,000 crore debt, who has never built an aircraft in his life."
Modi paid Rs 1500 crore per aircraft that the UPA government had worked out at Rs 700 crore, he said.
"Of course, it is a great deal, it's absolutely a smashing deal for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and you can see the effects of it in the amount of money being thrown around in the state (polls)."
On BJP's criticism of politicisation of rape cases, he said atrocities against women and their rape was indeed a "political issue, it's a national issue".
"Are you telling me if Indian women are raped politicians shouldn't discuss it? It is absolutely a political issue, it is an issue that is fundamental. The treatment of our women is absolutely an issue," Gandhi said.
The Congress chief claimed India's foreign policy was "decimated" as the Prime Minister looked at it as an individual exercise.
"He is under the impression that he can go on and have personal conversation with the President of China and everything will magically happen," Gandhi said.
He said the prime minister needs to take into confidence talented people in the foreign ministry.
"Are discussions happening with finance, foreign and defence minister on strategies? No. It's a one-man show."
About a battery of union ministers descending on the state on the last day of the campaign, Gandhi said the BJP was in "panic" because they had realised that the Congress party was doing things differently.
The Congress president flayed the prime minister for his "silence" on incidents of killing of Dalits and attacks on them.
Accusing the prime minister and the BJP of shielding Karnataka's influential and controversial Reddy brothers, he said the government had turned the "Central Bureau of Investigation into Central Bureau of Illegal Mining" to save the Reddy siblings.
Two of the Reddy brothers and several associates have been fielded by the BJP in the Karnataka polls.