Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders have launched a no-holds-barred attack on Congress leader Rahul Gandhi over his controversial 'North vs South' remark made in his home constituency Wayand in Kerala. The leader accused him of being an 'opportunist' and alleged that he belittled north Indians during a speech delivered in Kerala.
"For the first 15 years, I was an MP in the north. I had got used to a different type of politics. For me, coming to Kerala was very refreshing as suddenly I found that people are interested in issues and not just superficially but going into detail in issues," the former Congress chief said while addressing a public gathering in Thiruvananthapuram on Tuesday.
Labelling these comments as anti-north Indians, BJP leaders attacked Rahul and alleged he was being an opportunist despite he and his family members having won several elections from Amethi in Uttar Pradesh.
BJP national president JP Nadda tweeted, "A few days back he (Rahul Gandhi) was in the Northeast, spewing venom against the western part of India. Today in the South he is spewing venom against the North. Divide and rule politics won’t work, @RahulGandhi Ji! People have rejected this politics. See what happened in Gujarat today!"
Amethi MP and Union minister Smriti Irani called him "ungrateful" and said the popular saying about such a person is "one without much knowledge blabbers more".
Irani defeated Rahul in his family bastion Amethi during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Rahul, who was representing Amethi constituency of Uttar Pradesh in the Lok Sabha since 2004, contested from Wayanad constituency in Kerala simultaneously. Although he lost Amethi to Smriti Irani of the BJP, he won from the Congress bastion in Kerala.
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said, "I hail from the South. I am an MP from a Western state. I was born, educated and worked in the North. I represented all of India before the World. India is one. Never run down a region; never divide us."
Another BJP leader Kiren Rijiju, in his tweet, asked Rahul not to "abuse Amethi and North Indians". "Amethi people have given so much chance to your entire family! People from every part of India are good if you are good," he tweeted.
Union minister Hardeep Singh Puri tweeted, "Look at his gall. The man who ran to Kerala to save his Lok Sabha seat questions the intelligence of North Indians, including those who faithfully voted for his family for generations! Fact is that he was forced to run because of non-performance and lack of development."
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath accused Gandhi of "practising cheap politics" and resorting to regionalism. "Rahulji, Atalji had once said that India is not just a piece of land, but a living ‘Rashtrapurush’. Please don't try to divide it for your cheap politics by the sword of regionalism. India was one, is one, and will always be one," he said.
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan accused the Congress of trying to create a "north-south" divide in the country. "Wherever Rahul Gandhi has landed, Congress has been grounded. Rahulji had earlier made north India free of Congress and now he has headed southwards. For us and the people, the entire country is one. Congress wants to divide the country into north and south. People will not allow these attempts to succeed," he tweeted.
Union Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat said, "North, South, East (or) West, no matter wherever you go Rahul Gandhi, you will always find Indians superficial. Because, to understand us, you have to be Indian first!"