Ahmedabad: Soon after Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi submitted his nomination papers for his expected elevation as party president, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) attacked the Grand Old Party and the Gandhi scion for its “dynastic politics.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, speaking at Dharampur in Gujarat’s Valsad district, referred to the Congress party hierarchy as “Aurangzeb Raj,” comparing the Gandhi family to Mughal rule in India. “For us, the wellbeing of the people matters and 125 crore Indians are our high command,” he said at a rally.

“(Congress leader) Mani Shankar Aiyar asked, ‘Did elections happen during Mughal rule? After Jehangir, Shah Jahan came. Was any election held? After Shah Jahan, it was understood that Aurangzeb will be the leader.’ So the Congress accepts it’s a family party. We don’t want this Aurangzeb rule,” the Prime Minister said.

Sonia Gandhi has been at the helm of the Congress for nearly 20 years. 

The accusation of “dynastic politics” has followed the Congress for many years, with the BJP even terming it “feudalism.” On Monday, there was dissent within the Congress itself as Shehzad Poonawalla, the party’s Maharashtra secretary, called the process of electing its president “rigged” and said he had information that the delegates who will vote in the election were “fixed.”

Aiyar hit back at the Prime Minister and Poonawalla, saying: “Don’t compare both. During Mughal rule, it was understood that after Jehangir, Shah Jahan will be the leader. But here, anyone is free to contest against Rahul Gandhi. It’s totally a democratic process.”

“In a democracy, elections are held. I openly invite Poonawalla to file his nomination and contest,” Aiyar said.

Meanwhile, other BJP leaders joined the chorus against the Congress.

Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, the Union minister for parliamentary affairs, offered a tongue-in-cheek appraisal of the Congress vice-president’s work. “I congratulate Rahul Gandhi for his promotion without performance. This can only be possible in a feudal set-up. I fully that the way the Congress is on a ventilator, Rahul Gandhi standing in the elevator will not do anything different. He failed in all the exams,” he said.

Union petroleum and natural gas minister Dharmendra Pradhan, in Surat on the campaign trail, said, “He (Rahul Gandhi) is the owner of the party. His elevation and nomination are their (Congress) personal matter. However, they are forced to make this arrangement because of the regulations of the Election Commission of India,” he said, without elaborating.

Other opposition parties have voiced their lack of confidence in the Congress vice-president’s ability to hold them together the way Sonia Gandhi did.

Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Sitaram Yechury recently said the Gandhi scion cannot replace his mother, who he called the “glue” that held the opposition together.

On Monday, Modi also accused the Congress of attempting to defame the BJP by propagating the message that the ruling party is against Muslims.

“Disinformation like the BJP does this and that against Muslims has been spread. This family party made it their main agenda to spread disinformation about the BJP. But Gujarat’s people are not so naive. They have now become sensitive and aware of disinformation,” he said.

The Prime Minister accused the Congress of resorting to divisive politics to win the forthcoming Gujarat assembly elections, which will be held in two phases on 9 and 14 December. 

“Earlier, the Congress would go out of the way to show their secularism. But now we are all seeing what they are doing in this election, where they are going. Unfortunately for them, Muslims know their real nature,” Modi said, adding that the Congress has always defamed Gujarat and that it can neither tolerate nor accept leaders from the state. (ANI)