The Congress on Wednesday called Prime Minister Narendra Modi a "serial abuser" and the Bharatiya Janata Party "mother of crass statements", drawing a strong rebuttal from the ruling party which insisted Modi was a "victim" of abuses.
With political discourse often getting reduced to vituperative outburst, senior Congress leader Abhishek Singhvi targeted Modi and the BJP over it, and sought apology.
"The BJP is mother and producer of derogatory, insulting, foul language...the sheer brazenness with which the BJP escapes any blame after indulging in crude, crass and coarse language is appalling...we demand the BJP apologise for lowering quality of public discourse," Singhvi told reporters.
Singhvi listed several cases where the prime minister allegedly made derogatory remarks by calling his predecessor Manmohan Singh a "night-watchman", Congress president Sonia Gandhi a "jersey cow" and the party's vice president Rahul Gandhi a "hybrid calf" in the past.
Singhvi also said the prime minister recently called the Congress a "termite".
The BJP mounted a spirited counteroffensive with Union minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore insisting: "If somebody has been abused the most after independence, it is Narendra Modi. He is a victim."
He cited a host of "abusive" comments made by Congress leaders, including its president Sonia Gandhi and her deputy Rahul Gandhi, in the past to target Modi.
Sonia Gandhi called Modi 'maut ka saudagar' (merchant of death), while her son accused him of 'khoon ki dalali' (broker of blood), Singh said, adding that Priyanka Gandhi had used the word 'neech' (despicable) against the prime minister. He also cited several others abusive comments made by Congress leaders to make his point.
A bitter war of words broke out between the two parties after the Congress' youth wing on Tuesday circulated a meme about Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 'chaiwala' past, provoking a backlash from the BJP, and prompting a red-faced Congress to distance from it.
The meme that unleashed a political firestorm contained photograph of Modi, United States president Donald Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May engaged in a conversation.
Modi is seen telling the two leaders about the opposition's memes targeting him. He mispronounces the word as "mainmain". Trump corrects him, saying the word is pronounced as "meem", while May tells him to go and sell tea.