NEW DELHI: The rising pitch of vitriol between the Congress and the BJP continued its ascent on Tuesday, as Congress chief Rahul Gandhi poked fun of Prime Minister Narendra Modi for heading a government that is presently functioning with no leadership in the Finance Ministry.
Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has been unwell and out of action since April, and Finance Secretary Hasmukh Adhia out on holiday. Rahul poked fun of this in a tweet which read, "Dear FM, As you are indisposed and Finance Secretary is on vacation with his Guru on a quest for inner peace, I have decided to shut the Finance Ministry till further notice. The PMO will take all financial policy decisions as before. Prime Minister."
As you are indisposed and Finance Secretary is on vacation with his Guru on a quest for inner peace, I have decided to shut the Finance Ministry till further notice.
The PMO will take all financial policy decisions as before.
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) May 8, 2018
Ironically, PM Modi himself was not in New Delhi when Rahul tweeted this taunt. He was in Karnataka, where he is on a whirlwind campaign tour.
This is the latest broadside in a chain of escalating exchanges between the Congress and the BJP, and seems to be part of Rahul Gandhi's crafting of a virulently anti-Modi image as the 2019 Lok Sabha polls draw closer.
Rahul Gandhi also hinted at his own Prime Ministerial ambitions at a press conference in Bengaluru, where he is presently campaigning. In response to a question from a reporter on whether he could become Prime Minister if the Congress emerges the single largest party in 2019, Rahul simply said, "Yes, why not."
However, the Congress could find it increasingly difficult to stitch together an alliance. The opposition parties that had come together to try and put up a candidate in the Presidential elections of 2017 have not managed to stay together on a policy platform.
This, combined with efforts by Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) chief and Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR) to form a 'federal front' to take on the BJP-led NDA. KCR has met with a number of leaders such as TMC chief and West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee, JDS leader HD Deve Gowda, DMK leader MK Stalin and Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav among others.