Priyanka Gandhi's 'low-level politics' barb targeting Narendra Modi sparked bitter exchanges on Tuesday between the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party in which he played the caste card while her party accused him of deliberately misinterpreting facts and called him a "spin master".
"You can insult Modi as much as you like, you can hang him. But do not insult the lower caste...I was attacked and dubbed as a tea seller as if it I had committed a crime.
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"Questions were raised as to how he (Modi) can run the country...I have sold tea not the country," the BJP Prime Ministerial candidate said in a sharp riposte to Priyanka's remark.
Addressing a poll rally in Domariyaganj in Uttar Pradesh, Modi also asked whether it was a crime to be born in a backward caste.
"Did I insult anyone despite being born in backward caste? Such a dirty blame has been put on me," he said.
Earlier in a series of tweets, the Gujarat chief minister had hit out at Priyanka Gandhi saying, "As I belong to a socially backward caste, they consider my politics to be of a low level (neech rajneeti)."
Congress spokesman and Union Minister Kapil Sibal said that Priyanka never made any such insinuation and that she was only referring to BJP's "low-level" politics.
"He knows that he is misinterpreting. He does it purposefully. That is Narendra Modi. He will give it a spin that has nothing to do with fact," he told reporters in Delhi.
Congress spokesperson Rashid Alvi alleged that Modi was indulging in "caste politics" in his desperate attempt to garner votes.
"It is unfortunate that he distorted Priyanka Gandhi's comments for political mileage. In the BJP, whether one belongs to upper caste or lower caste, all of them are doing low-level politics," Alvi said.
The BJP spokesperson Nirmal Sitharaman said Priyanka was "ill-advised" in using the 'neech' expression, which was "insulting". "She (Priyanka) doesn't understand the impact it can have, the negative impact it can have especially at the time when this country is trying to extricate itself out of caste politics.”
Senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley said the use of the word 'neech' should have been avoided since it has been mentioned in the social context of India.
Priyanka had on Monday hit out at Modi saying he has insulted her "martyred" father Rajiv Gandhi during his speech in Amethi and accused him of indulging in "low-level" politics.