The Bharatiya Janata Party on Saturday cited a video of a Christian priest's purported comments mentioning Hindu goddess Shakti during a conversation with Rahul Gandhi to allege it shows the "anti-Hindu" face of the opposition party, drawing a sharp reaction.
The Congress accused the BJP of spreading mischief through its "hate factory" and alleged that the ruling party has turned more desperate ever since the successful launch of the 'Bharat Jodo Yatra'.
In the video shared by several BJP leaders among others, the priest identified as George Ponnaiah is purportedly heard telling Gandhi that Jesus Christ is the "real god. ...revealed as a human being. Not like Shakti..." He was responding to the Congress leader's query if Jesus is considered god or not.
BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra claimed the video has exposed the reality of the 'Bharat Jodo Yatra'. It insults goddess Shakti ahead of the beginning of Navratra, he told reporters.
This is not the first time the Congress has been involved in such incidents as the party had earlier questioned the existence of Lord Ram, he said. During elections, Gandhi pretends to go to temples but the "anti-Hindu" face comes to the fore after the polls are over, he alleged.
"Is this 'Bharat Jodo'? Denouncing one religion for the appeasement of the other. This Hindu hatred of the Congress in general and Rahul Gandhi, in particular, is no more a clandestine affair. Rahul wears it on his sleeves with pride! 'Bharat-Todo' indeed by Rahul Gandhi," Patra said.
AICC general secretary, communications, Jairam Ramesh said the BJP's "hate factory" is sharing tweets about Gandhi which have no relation to the audio.
"An atrocious tweet from the BJP hate factory is doing the rounds. It bears no relation whatsoever to what is recorded in the audio. This is typical BJP mischief that has become more desperate after the successful launch of Bharat Jodo Yatra which is evoking such a huge response," Ramesh tweeted.
"People who were responsible for the killing of Mahatma Gandhi and the murders of people like Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare, MM Kalburgi and Gauri Lankesh are raising questions! What a morbid joke! Such attempts to damage the spirit of Bharat Jodo Yatra will fail miserably," he said in another tweet.
Targeting the Congress, BJP spokesperson Shehzad Poonawalla, said, "George Ponnaiah who met Rahul Gandhi says 'Jesus is the only God unlike Shakti (and other Gods)'. This man was arrested for his Hindu hatred earlier - he also said 'I wear shoes because impurities of Bharat Mata should not contaminate us'. Bharat Jodo with Bharat Todo icons."
The opposition had "anti-Hindu DNA" which keeps reflecting itself, he alleged, referring to "saffron terror" remarks of the Congress when it was in power.
Countering Ramesh, Poonawalla said the Congress's "factory of hate" was witnessed in 1984 riots against the Sikhs when the then prime minister sought to allegedly justify it.