Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday alleged that the "arrogant" Congress was "abusing" his nonagenarian mother as it was bereft of issues and "lacked strength" to take him on after suffering "defeat" at his hands over the last 18 years.
The prime minister hit back after Congress leader Raj Babbar compared the falling value of Indian rupee with the age of Modi's mother Hiraben during campaigning for the Madhya Pradesh elections .
Addressing a rally Madhya Pradesh's Chhattarpur ahead of November 28 assembly polls, Modi also attacked United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi, saying his government is "not remote-controlled by a madam sitting inside her home" but had 125 crore countrymen as its "high command".
He alleged the "coffers of banks" were emptied out for the rich during the "madam's government".
"The people in the Congress, you do not have the strength to fight Modi. In the last 17-18 years, I have challenged you at every instance and defeated you. And you are dragging my mother into politics? Does this behove the Congress and its leaders?" Modi asked.
The prime minister also targeted the Congress over the controversial purchase of Bofors guns in 1980s and 90s and the Bhopal gas tragedy (1984).
"When you do not have issues, when there is a bankruptcy of issues and arrogance is sky-high, only then one dares to abuse someone else's mother.
"I am saying this with pain, the people in the party (the Congress) which has ruled for many years, instead of taking on Modi..after all their weapons to target Modi failed.. they are now hurling abuse at Modi's mother, they are defaming Modi's mother," Modi said.
Likening the Congress' comments to the ones made during "petty quarrels in bylanes", Modi said his mother "who does not understand even R of 'rajniti' (politics)" was being targeted by the opposition party.
Babbar had kicked up a row with his comments on falling value of rupee at a rally in Indore on Thursday.
"(Before becoming the PM) Modi used to say that compared to the (US) dollar, the value of the rupee has fallen to a level where it is almost the same as the age of the then Prime Minister (Manmohan Singh)," Babbar had said.
"Mr Prime Minister, at that time, you had not taken his (Singh's) name out of respect. Although our tradition does not allow this, we wish to say that now the value of the rupee has fallen to the age of your respected mother," he said.
Modi on Saturday alleged that the previous Congress-led governments would "call up banks" to give loans to the rich, whereas his dispensation is empowering the youth.
The Congress has been levelling allegations of cronyism against the Modi government.
"Madam's government had opened the doors of the bank for big industrialists, but we opened banks for the people and sanctioned loans to 14.50 crore under the PM Mudra Yojna," Modi said, adding "corruption is the courtesy and culture of Congress' four generations".
"Between 2006 and 2014, during Madam's government, the banks dispensed money to the rich, equal to what they had distributed 50 years prior to that. They emptied the coffers, they sunk banks," Modi said.
On the demonetisation decision taken in 2016, Modi said three lakh (shell) companies got locked because they were operating under fictitious names.
He again ridiculed the Congress' central and state leadership, asking why "a 'naamdar' (dynast), a 'raja' (king) and a 'maharaja' (emperor)" were "worried" because Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan is called 'mama' (maternal uncle). The Prime Minister has been using these terms to attack Rahul Gandhi, Digvijaya Singh and Jyotiraditya Scindia.
The ruling Bhartiya Janata Party is seeking a fourth straight term in the central state under Chouhan.
"Why does not the Congress remember Quattrochhi for whom its governments had kept doors open and the second mama Anderson, the criminal of the Bhopal gas tragedy?
"It was the government of Naamdar's father then. He (Anderson) was taken to America in a special plane," Modi alleged, apparently referring to the then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi.
The role Italian businessmen Ottavio Quattrocchi had come under scanner in the Bofors deal for which the then PM Rajiv Gandhi had been targeted by the Opposition in 1990s.
Warren Anderson was the CEO of the US company Union Carbide which ran a chemical plant in Bhopal where a gas leak in 1984 killed thousands of people in what is known as the world's worst industrial disaster.
Modi alleged that the Congress indulged in politics of divisiveness. "Because of its caste-based and discriminatory politics, the people voted the party out of power in Madhya Pradesh". The PM said MP has taken a "big leap" under the BJP since 2013, and appealed to the people to "not make the mistake of voting for those who had ruled for 55 years".
"Fourteen schemes were pending in Madhya Pradesh for years which we identified in 2014 and completed 10 of these schemes to increase irrigation facility."
Modi said the Centre created three lakh common service centres after 2014 which have generated employment for 10 lakh youths. The PM said only 70,000 such centres were generated under the Congress.
Modi said Bundelkhand has an immense tourism potential as it has world famous Khajuraho temple and Panna National Park.
"It (the region) will also generate employment for many youths including 'chaiwalas'. We have framed scheme worth Rs 10,000 crore," he said.
Modi has often referred to how he use to sell tea as a youngster.
'Modi betrayed people on promises of jobs, depositing Rs 15 lakh in accounts'
Congress chief Rahul Gandhi said Modi has betrayed the people, claiming that he had not fulfilled promises of providing two crore jobs every year and "depositing" Rs 15 lakh in their bank accounts.
The Congress chief was addressing a rally at Sagar in Madhya Pradesh, where assembly polls will be held on November 28.
"Modiji has betrayed the people on the issue of providing jobs to two crore people every year and depositing Rs 15 lakh cash into their accounts by bringing (back) black money stashed abroad," Gandhi said.
Modi, during the 2014 Lok Sabha election campaign, had prominently highlighted the issue of black money and had promised to bring it back.
The fear of losing the 2019 general elections has created "hatred" in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's mind against the Congress, Gandhi said addressing another rally at Damoh later.
The Congress chief said while Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan speaks with decency, Modi lacks it whenever he attacks the Congress and his family members.
"When you hear Modi's speech, he uses wrong words and speaks with hatred... and also speaks lies. The faith reposed by the people and youths in them has broken. Now, when Modi comes, people say he will speak lies," Gandhi said.
"He (Modi) speaks with hatred about me and my family, but Shivraj uses decent language. Modi doesn't know how to speak decently, but Rahul Gandhi will always maintain decency while speaking," he said.
"Though Chouhan has indulged in corruption, whenever he says anything against us, he speaks with decency," Gandhi added.