There are people in India who think they know more than God and Prime Minister Narendra Modi is "one such specimen", Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has said.
Reacting sharply to Gandhi's targeting of Prime Minister Modi, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi on Wednesday described the former Congress president as a "fake Gandhi" and as a person "who knows nothing" but has become an expert on everything.
Speaking at the 'Mohabbat Ki Dukaan' event organised by Indian Overseas Congress USA in Santa Clara in the US state of California on Tuesday, Gandhi said these people are "absolutely convinced" that they know everything and can explain history to historians, science to scientists and warfare to the army.
"The world is too big and complicated for any person to know everything. That is the disease…There is a group of people in India who are absolutely convinced they know everything. They think they know even more than God.
"They can sit with God and explain to him what's going on. And of course, our prime minister is one such specimen. If you sat Modiji with God, he will explain to God how the universe works and God will get confused about what have I created,” he said, evoking peals of laughter from hundreds of his Indian American supporters.
"They think they can explain history to historians, science to scientists and warfare to the army. But at the core of it is mediocrity. They're not ready to listen!" he said.
Responding to Gandhi's speech, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Joshi claimed that the Congress leader's knowledge of history did not go beyond his family.
"It is funny how someone who knows nothing is suddenly an expert on everything. A man whose history knowledge does not go beyond his family is talking about history," the senior BJP leader said in New Delhi.
"A man who claimed to produce gold out of potatoes is giving lectures about science and a man who never ventured beyond family affairs now wants to lead India's warfare," Joshi said.
"No Mr. Fake Gandhi! The core of India is its culture. Unlike you, who use foreign soil to tarnish the country, Indians are very proud of their history and can very well defend their geography," the Parliamentary Affairs Minister said.
Gandhi's event was attended by community members not only from Silicon Valley but also from Los Angeles and Canada, said President of Indian Overseas Congress Mohinder Singh Gilzian.
Gandhi, 52, told the Indian Americans that the idea of India was under attack and is being challenged.
Talking about Sengol row, Gandhi said that Modi and his government cannot address issues like unemployment, price rise, the spread of anger and hatred.
"The BJP can't really discuss these issues so they have to do the sceptre thing. Lying down and doing all that," Gandhi said, referring to the Sengol that was installed in the new Parliament building by Modi on Sunday.
He applauded the Indian Americans for holding up the Indian flag in America, showing the American people what it means to be an Indian by respecting their culture and learning from them while also allowing the Americans to learn from them.
“You make us all proud. When we think of our country, you are all our ambassadors. When America says Indian people are extremely intelligent. Indian people are masters of IT, Indian people are respectful. All these ideas that have come, they've come because of you and because of your actions and your behaviours,” he said.
Gandhi said the poor and people from minority communities feel helpless today in India.
"Indians do not believe in hating each other. A small group of people who control the system and the media are stoking the flames of hatred," he said.
"Congress' stand on the Women's Reservation Bill is clear. We're committed to getting the bill passed. We have to give women their deserved space in the political system, businesses and running the country," he said.
A few Khalistani supporters tried to disrupt Gandhi's speech but were taken out by the security personnel.
Indian Overseas Congress chairperson Sam Pitroda, who accompanied Gandhi at the event, said that India needs a “young mind” like Gandhi to lead the country.
“We need someone with an open mind. We need someone who has broader exposure, and global experience. And that's the reason we are all here meeting and interacting with a large number of people,” he said.
“I know that the road ahead is pretty complicated. It's not that simple... Our idea of India is very different,” Pitroda said.
Gandhi arrived here on Tuesday on a three-city US tour during which he will interact with the Indian diaspora and meet American lawmakers.
Last week, Pitroda said Gandhi's visit is aimed at promoting shared values and a vision of “real democracy”.
"The purpose of his (Gandhi's) trip is to connect, interact and begin a new conversation with various individuals, institutions and media, including the Indian diaspora that is growing in numbers in the United States and abroad to promote the shared values and vision of the real democracy with a focus on freedom, inclusion, sustainability, justice, peace and opportunities world over,” Pitroda said in a statement.