BJP president Amit Shah on Saturday lashed out at Congress, accusing it of insulting the Hindu religion across the globe in the name of "saffron terrorism" and demanded that the party apologise to the nation.
"The Congress should apologise for the term 'saffron terrorism'. The party must apologise for defaming Hindu culture, insulting Hindus," he said at a public meeting in the Gandhi family's home turf.
Shah's visit to Rae Bareli comes days after former Congress president Sonia Gandhi visited her Lok Sabha constituency, her first trip there in nearly two years.
"The grand old party will never apologise to the Hindu community because of its vote bank politics," Shah said, accusing Congress of using religion as a political tool.
Referring to the acquittal of preacher Swami Aseemanand in the Mecca Masjid blast case earlier this week, he sought to target the Congress over the party's attempts to "defame" Hindus in terror cases.
"Charges were levelled during the Congress government against Aseemanandji and others but they have been acquitted by the court," he said.
"I want to ask Rahul 'baba', your home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, P Chidambaram, Digvijay Singh and all had tried to defame Hindu culture by talking about saffron terrorism... you need to apologise before the entire country," Shah added.
"Rahulji decide on the limit of how low one can stoop in politics," he said, accusing him to trying to defame an ancient culture worldwide. He said the Congress leaders were yet to apologise days after the court verdict.
"Don't think that you can go scot free," he said.
"If anyone is framed, he will come out free as truth cannot be kept hidden. Not even you, 'Rahul baba', can do this," he added.
Taking his party's fight against Congress in the Gandhi family pocket borough, Shah said his Bharatiya Janata Party will rid Sonia Gandhi's constituency of 'parivarvad' (dynastic politics) and take it on to the path of 'vikaswad' or development.
He said Rae Bareli voted for top Congress leaders but had not witnessed development since Independence.
"This land has elected the topmost Congress leaders for years but it does not reflect in the development of the area," he said.
"I want to assure you that we will develop it as an ideal constituency and a model district," he said, virtually blowing the BJP's election bugle with Lok Sabha polls only months away.
Lashing out at the Congress, he said it has adopted the politics of division to mislead the people to consolidate its vote bank.
The BJP president said before the Yogi Adityanath government came to power, Uttar Pradesh was known for 'goondas' and the bad law and order situation.
But as soon as the Yogi government came to power the thugs started migrating and rule of law has been established," he said.
Shah said he has been touring all over the country, and added, "I can say that Narendra Modi government will come back with a bigger mandate in 2019."
Exuding confidence that the BJP will win the Karnataka Assembly elections, he said, "The BJP will have its 21st government in the country after May 16."
Though the BJP swept Uttar Pradesh in the 2014 general elections, the BJP lost both Rae Bareli and Amethi to the Congress.
Barring three exceptions -- 1977, 1996 and 1998 -- Rae Bareli has stood with the Congress since 1952.
This time the BJP is out to test Rae Bareli's love for the Nehru-Gandhi family, currently represented by UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, a four-term MP.
Earlier, a minor fire broke out at the rally venue, triggering a commotion.
The fire, which was brought under control in short time, broke out due to an electrical short circuit near the media enclosure, officials said.
Shah and Yogi Adityanath were present on the dais at that time.
State BJP chief Mahendranath Pandey was addressing the gathering when smoke and sparks were noticed. The programme was stopped for a while.
(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)