The BJP today hit back at Rahul Gandhi after the Congress vice-president claimed that he has detailed information about "personal corruption" by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and that the PM was "terrified" of him being allowed to speak inside Lok Sabha.
Union minister Kiren Rijiju ridiculed Rahul for his statement and termed the remark as the "biggest joke" of the year.
Talking to reporters outside Parliament, the Minister of State for Home Affairs took a jibe at Gandhi, saying instead it is the Congress party which is very scared as it has to defend utterances of its vice president.
"Everybody feels that it is the biggest joke of the year that Rahul Gandhi says Narendra Modi is scared of his oratory skill. If he speaks will there be an earthquake or the balloon will burst.
"I don't think anyone takes comments he makes seriously. Congress itself is very scared of when Rahul Gandhi speaks as the party has to defend his words. That's the level of threat he poses to his own party," Rijiju said.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar today said the remarks by Rahul were made out of "desperation" and asked the Congress leader to apologise.
He also said that opposition parties were not ready for a debate in Parliament and dismissed their charge that the government was not allowing the House to function.
On Rahul's accusation against the Prime Minister, Kumar said, "Had he any information, he would have said it by now. It is a baseless allegation. He is saying this out of frustration. Today they are saying they are not being allowed to speak. It is wrong because everyday Congress members are coming to the well of the House. Now they are making trying to spread rumour and baseless allegations."
On opposition's charge that the government was not allowing the House to function, he said, "I want to ask Rahul Gandhi where he was hiding all these days. Parliament has started since November 16. Everyday we used to ask Congress, TMC, Left to debate. But they were taking up rules and regulations, technicalities and were not ready to debate."
Referring to a sting operation shown in a channel purportedly showing currency note exchanges allegedly in AICC headquarters, Kumar said, "We are ready for debate. Yesterday, a channel had shown what happened in AICC headquarters.
“Congress has been exposed as it has happened in the party headquarters.That is why he is saying this out of frustration. After the expose, he should apologise to the nation."
Taking on Congress, he further said, "Those who had blocked the functioning of the House are making allegations. It is really shameful that Congress is behaving like this."
Asked comment on Rahul's allegation, Information and Broadcasting Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said, "Who has stopped them in all these days. First let the allegations come what is the point talking meaningless like that."
Earlier, Rahul Gandhi alleged that he has detailed information about "personal corruption" by Prime Minister Narendra Modi which he wants to present in Lok Sabha but is not being allowed to do so by the PM.
"The Prime Minister is personally terrified of me being allowed to open my mouth inside Lok Sabha because I have information about the Prime Minister that is going to explode his balloon. And I am not being allowed to speak in the House," he told reporters in Parliament premises.
Asked what kind of information he has, the Congress Vice President said, "That information is personal information about Narendra Modiji which I want to state in Lok Sabha. It is personal corruption of the Prime Minister that we have detailed information about. We want to present it, which the Prime Minister is not allowing us to speak."
Gandhi said the entire opposition wants a debate in Parliament and have discussed with the Speaker to allow it while dispensing all rules.
"Pretty much unconditionally we are ready to have a discussion, but the government is not interested in having a discussion. I have already said it before, the Prime Minister is personally terrified of me being allowed to open my mouth inside the Lok Sabha," he said.
He claimed Modi has taken a decision against the poor people of this country and has "destroyed" millions of lives and thus is answerable. He said he has personally taken this decision and he cannot keep running away from the House.
Gandhi said the Prime Minister cannot keep "running away" to pop concerts to public meetings. This is a democracy, he owes this country an explanation and he owes the entire opposition a space in the discussion in the Lok Sabha, he said.
"The Prime Minister is worried. He goes to pop concerts and public meetings. Why does he not come to the House. For the first time in history, the treasury benches and the government is stalling Parliament. Normally the opposition stalls the House.
"The Prime Minister should stop taking alibis and he should come to the House and give all of us an opportunity to speak. Then the country should take a decision on whether the opposition or the Prime Minister is speaking the truth," he said.
(With PTI inputs)