New Delhi: Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi's attack on Congress, likening it to termites, today triggered a war of words between leaders of the two parties.
Modi lashed out at the "commission-seeking" Congress-led UPA government which is destroying the nation like a termite.
"Congress is destroying this country like termites. It is very difficult to deal with termites - you finish them in one place and they rise in another. The only medicine for this ailment is sweat of the BJP worker," he told the BJP National Council meeting here.
Union Minister Manish Tewari hit back at Modi for the Gujarat riots and said then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had reminded the Gujarat Chief Minister about 'Raj Dharma' in the wake of the 2002 violence.
"AMNESIA Is it not true that Vajpayee ji reminded a certain CM about Raj Dharma in 02? What did Vajpayee attribute their 2004 defeat to?," Tewari said on social networking site Twitter.
Tewari's ministerial colleague Rajiv Shukla said the Gujarat Chief Minister was mistaken if he thought that he could attain the stature of a national leader by spending crores of rupees of the state for "self propaganda".
"The kind of language that Narendra Modi ji used today does not behove of any leader of national stature. I think he is yet not capable of attaining the stature of a national leader," Shukla said.
The ruling party accused Modi of double-speak and took exception to his remarks against the Prime Minister.
"His speech is a bundle of lies. Today he is expressing liking for Pranab Mukherjee. If you had courage and conviction, than why did Modi ji not support Pranab Mukherjee (in the Presidential elections)," Shukla posed.
Minister of State in PMO V Narayanasamy slammed Modi for his attacks on Congress and the Prime Minister, saying he does not know politics and was being projected by BJP only because it lacks other leaders.
"Modi does not know politics and is being projected by BJP only because it does not have other leaders. Modi cannot talk about who can become Prime Minister...," he told reporters.
Congress spokesperson Rashid Alvi retorted: "Dr Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is the Prime Minister of the country and not just of the Congress. His name should be taken with respect. His honour is the country's honour."
Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar hit out at Modi for his remarks by dubbing him as a "snake" and a "scorpion".
"Modi labelled us termites. I respond to that by calling him a snake, a scorpion. And it is a matter of praise, if criticism has come from such a bad person," he told reporters.
BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad termed Aiyar's remarks as "unfortunate" and "highly condemnable".
"A person nominated to the Rajya Sabha from the expert category of intellectuals is reducing himself to such demeaning comments which does not merit a reply," he said.
Attacking the Congress for scams like the VVIP helicopter deal and 2G spectrum, Modi said, "While BJP is for a mission, Congress is for commission. The contest will be between mission and commission."
Modi also alleged that the Congress tradition has been to sacrifice the nation's interest for the sake of one family.