New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Wednesday hit back at Rahul Gandhi for alleging having information about Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "personal corruption", saying the charge was a result of the Congress vice president's "desperation and frustration".
Earlier in the day, the Congress leader said he wanted to expose Modi's personal complicity in corruption but "a terrified government" didn't let him speak in Parliament.
However, top ministers in the government later dismissed Gandhi's allegation as "false and baseless", insisting there cannot be a bigger "lie" than it.
Senior ministers including Manohar Parrikar, Ananth Kumar, Ravi Shankar Prasad and Prakash Javadekar went ballistic at the Congress vice president.
"Rahul Gandhi tells lies. He speaks baseless. Come to Parliament, discuss and also listen to our reply. He is the same person who kept quiet during the 10 years when the country, under Manmohan Singh government, was being looted," Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said.
Earlier, addressing a press conference after the Lok Sabha was adjourned for the day, Gandhi alleged that he had information about "personal corruption" involving the Prime Minister and that he was not being allowed to speak in the House because of it.
Prasad said Gandhi has become "restless" because of the steps taken by the government against black money and corruption, adding "because of restlessness he is speaking such things."
Ridiculing Gandhi for making unsubstantiated charges, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kumar said the Congress vice president has been "exposed", adding the charges were made out of "desperation" and "frustration".
"Had he (Gandhi) got 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 every day Congress members are coming to the well of the House. Now they are trying to spread rumour and baseless allegations," Kumar said.
Rejecting Gandhi's claim that he is not being allowed to speak in the Lok Sabha, Defence Minister Parrikar said the question as to who has stalled Parliament should be put to him.
Addressing a press conference at the BJP headquarters, Javadekar said only Congress and not the government will be exposed when Gandhi speaks even as he dismissed the charge that the government was not letting the Congress leader speak in Parliament.
There cannot be a bigger "lie" than this, the Union Environment Minister said.
Javadekar also used a news channel sting, which purportedly showed some leaders from rival parties offering to change old currency notes for a commission, to attack the Congress, SP, and BSP, and taunted Gandhi, saying he should rename All India Congress Committee as "All India Currency Conduit".
"The more Rahul Gandhi speaks the more Congress will be exposed... These parties are protesting outside. They stand by Mahatma Gandhi's statue to protest. They have been unmasked now. They are opposing (demonetisation) because their wounds are deep. They have now opened money exchange centre," he said.
Mocking the Congress vice president over his "personal corruption" jibe at Modi, Javadekar said Congress has become a "commission agent" while the world has come to appreciate the Prime Minister's "spotless" character in the two-and-a-half-years of his rule.
Another Union minister Kiren Rijiju called Gandhi's charge the "biggest joke" of the year.
"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 there will be an earthquake or the balloon will burst.
"I don't think anyone takes the comments he makes seriously. Congress itself is very scared 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.
Union Minister Vijay Goel too attacked Gandhi, saying the Congress leader is "under scanner" of people for not letting Parliament function and that he made the statement "out of trepidation".
"Rahul Gandhi and Congress did not allow both the Houses to function even after they were told that the Prime Minister will intervene. They are under public scanner. They did not allow business to take place in Parliament even as crores of rupees of public money has been wasted. Hence, such statements," he said.
Goel also claimed that people are supporting Modi in his fight against black money and were "ready to spend additional 30 minutes in queues" outside banks and ATMs.
The Prime Minister and his office, however, didn't react to the remarks.
Amid the allegations and counter-allegations, Parliament again faced disruptions on Wednesday as the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha convened after an extended weekend.
(With Agency inputs)