New Delhi: In the wake of his remark that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was interested in "personal PR", Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday came under a sharp attack from the ruling dispensation as it slammed his "ill- informed and amateurish" views and quoted Swami Vivekananda to suggest that he should "arise, awake and realise the truth".
Lashing out at Gandhi for his barb that Modi was engaging in "personal PR", the NDA government said that the remarks show that the party was "rattled" by US President Barack Obama's successful visit to India.
"Congress leader's criticism of the Prime Minister is ill- informed, amateurish and prejudiced. It is borne of envy and shows a clear insecurity over their steadily dwindling political fortunes," Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said in a statement here.
Earlier, opening an attack on Modi, Gandhi accused him of being interested in "personal PR" and working for a few select industrialists.
Addressing a road show here, Gandhi also alleged that the NDA government has not been able deliver anything concrete in the last eight months.
Rubbishing the criticism, Naidu said that he was amazed by Gandhi's comments on Modi.
"Rahul Gandhi's criticism of the prime minister only shows to what extent the Congress is cut off from the reality of changes in the country and the significance of the initiatives of our government led by Modi.
"It clearly appears that the Congress and its leadership is rattled by the successful visit of US President Barack Obama," Naidu said.
BJP too hit back at Gandhi over his barb at Modi and said it seems that the Congress leader is "still in his sleep".
"It seems that due to his over-busy schedule, Rahul Gandhi is unable to realise the truth and ground reality of Indian politics. He was unable to realise the reality before elections and even now he is unable to realise it.
"It seems he is still in his sleep. I would like to quote a sentence by Swami Vivekananda which says - 'Arise, awake and realise the truth'," said BJP spokesperson Sudhanshu Trivedi. Hitting the campaign trail for the upcoming Delhi Assembly Elections, Gandhi today asserted that Congress will stage a comeback by fighting for the poor and would work to bring the country back on the "right track".
"NDA is in power at the Centre since May but the Prime Minister is busy in his personal PR (Public Relations). Not a single concrete thing has taken place. The public is asking when will the talk get over and the real work begin.
"There has been favouritism and work of only 3-4 industrialists is being done. Those who are poor, who are needy, are being neglected," he told reporters after a road show in southeast Delhi's Kalkaji constituency.
Rejecting the criticism, Naidu said that the Prime Minister is focussed on ensuring that India gets its due place on the global stage by harnessing the country's potential and reviving its economy which has taken a "severe beating" in the last 10 years.
"Inflation is down to an all-time low, the growth rate has gone up from 4.6 per cent to 5.6 per cent. Does all this amount to PR exercises?" he asked.
Naidu referred to Congress's Lok Sabha poll debacle as he targeted Gandhi and said that if the party is truly the only pro-poor party, as claimed by its vice president, he should "explain" as to why its performance was so poor at the hustings.
"Congress still refuses to get its act right even after the worst defeat in the last Lok Sabha polls," Naidu said while stressing that whatever the prime minister does is for the good of the country and its people.
"Instead of speaking for the aspirations of the people and lending constructive support both within and outside Parliament, Congress still remains blindfolded to the needs of 'aspirational India', of which the poor are the most important," he said.
Meanwhile, BJP's Trivedi said that Gandhi's statement on Obama's visit suggests that the Congress leader is unable to realise the reality of the achievements of the Modi government in its eight months in office.
Trivedi said that the NDA government had taken a firm stand against Pakistan and also maintained exceptionally good relations with major countries like the US, China, Japan and Australia. It has also reached out to neighbouring countries like Nepal and Bhutan and has firmly upheld the interests of Indian farmers at WTO, he added.
"Even if after that, Rahul Gandhi is unable to visualise or realise the reality, I would like to say that it seems that he is still in sleep," the BJP spokesperson said. Naidu further questioned whether Gandhi knew that after the protracted period of Congress rule at the Centre, 58 per cent of the country's population, most of them poor, did not have bank accounts as late as in 2014.
"Does he know that over 11 crore bank accounts have been opened under PM's Jan Dhan Yojana during the last 10 weeks or so, ending financial untouchability which was the legacy of the Congress governments?," he said.
The The Parliamentary Affairs Minister minister claimed that Modi is focussed on reviving the manufacturing sector, improving the ease of doing business in our country, ensuring necessary skills for the youth, building toilets and houses for urban and rural poor and cleaning India, cleaning the rivers and linking them.
"The Modi government firmly believes in speedy economic development which is inclusive and benefits the last of the poor. All our endeavours are aimed at unfolding opportunities for the young, the poor and all the aspiring. We have made a difference already within a short span of just eight months and will certainly fulfil the mandate given to us by the people of the country and keep our promises.
"The entire country is happy about the development agenda and are willing to walk along with him (Modi)," Naidu maintained.
Referring to Obama's visit, Naidu said it had seen a significant breakthrough being achieved in taking forward the India-US Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement, which was stuck for about six years.
"During Obama's visit, defence cooperation has also been taken to a new level with concrete understanding. The positive chemistry forged between Prime Minister Modi and President Obama will further cement relations between the people of the two countries besides creating substantial goodwill for our country among US businesses and investors," the minister said.