New Delhi: The Congress on Monday accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of insulting democracy by trying to segment Indians in terms of castes and communities.
Party spokesperson Manish Tewari said it was unfortunate that Modi saw Indians in terms of their communities as he stated that the Congress was scared to field its leaders from constituencies dominated by the majority community voters.
"It is unfortunate that the prime minister of India has spoken such words. Unlike the PM of India, who sees the citizens of the country in terms of their communities and not as citizens of India, the Congress sees each and every of the 135 crore citizens as Indians.
"....By trying to segment the Indian democracy in terms of castes and communities, the prime minister has insulted the democracy that we are," he told reporters here.
Tewari said when the country adopted the Constitution in 1950 and the people of India gave to themselves universal adult suffrage, it meant that "irrespective of which caste, community, region, religion you come from, you have an equal right to vote".
He also hit out at Modi and termed his comment that the Congress had coined the phrase "Hindu terror" as "lies".
"Prime Minister Narendra Modi is clearly speaking a lie. Hindu terrorism was defined by his ministerial colleague, who was then a home secretary. This definition was given by him. As far as the Congress is concerned, it always believes that terrorism does not have any religion or caste and it needs to be fought.
"It is unfortunate that the prime minister is trying to speak a lie to deflect the attention from his own failures. He should talk to his colleague and he would know who had defined Hindu terrorism," Tewari said.
He added that Gandhi contesting the upcoming Lok Sabha polls from a second seat -- Wayanad in Kerala -- was in keeping with the tradition of top Congress leaders contesting from south India.
"What stops the prime minister of India, if he cares for that India which is in the south of the Vindhyas, from contesting a seat in south India? We have not stopped him," the Congress leader said.
To a question on whether the Congress would file a complaint with the Election Commission over Modi's remarks, he said, "We will examine the PM's speech and after that, take appropriate action." Tewari added that it was sad that the prime minister, instead of focussing on his track record and "answering to the people of India for all the lies he had told in the 2013-2014 election campaign, is trying to deflect issues once again".
He said the issue in the polls starting April 11 was the "non-performance" of the BJP-led government over the last five years and in order to cover that, every attempt was being made to try and deflect people's attention towards non-issues, while the real issues of jobs, agrarian distress remained neglected.
"Those are the real issues on which the BJP-NDA and the prime minister need to answer on," the Congress leader said.
Noting that the upcoming election was about serious issues, he said it was about saving democracy, rebuilding the health of the country's institutions, ensuring that the farmers got their due and youngsters got jobs.
Earlier in the day, slamming the Congress over the "Hindu terror" metaphor, Modi charged the opposition party with insulting the "peace-loving" followers of the religion by linking them to terrorism.
The Hindus had woken up and the country had decided to "punish" the Congress, the prime minister said as he launched the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance's Lok Sabha election campaign in Maharashtra at a public rally in Wardha.
The Congress was scared to field its leaders from constituencies where the majority community dominated in terms of the voter-base, Modi said.
He though did not name Gandhi, who has decided to contest a second Lok Sabha seat from Wayanad in Kerala, besides Amethi in Uttar Pradesh.
"The Congress tried to stain crores of people of the country by using the term Hindu terror. Tell me, were you not deeply hurt when you heard the term 'Hindu terror'? Is there a single incident in the history of thousands of years of Hindus engaging in terrorism?," Modi asked the crowd at the Wardha rally.
"Some leaders are shying away from contesting the polls (in the first place). Those, whom it (Congress) had called terrorists, have woken up," he said.
"They (Congress) linked peace-loving Hindus to terrorism...they are scared now to contest elections from constituencies where the majority population dominates...they are forced to go where the majority (Hindus) is a minority," Modi added.