A war of words broke out between the principal Opposition Congress and the ruling BJP close on the heels of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s interview to an agency which was broadcast by various TV channels on Tuesday. The Congress dismissed the Modi interview as a “monologue”, which the party alleged was “full of jumla (rhetoric)”.

Accusing him of “peddling lies”, the Congress said there was no mention in his “fixed interview” of “ground realities” or any concern for promises made by him to the people of the country.

Launching a counter-attack, the BJP said PM Modi has demolished the “motivated agenda” of Opposition parties with this comprehensive interview on the New Year Day.

In his interview to news agency ANI, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Tuesday spoke on a range of issues, including Ram Temple, the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the Opposition grand alliance, the BJP loss in all five states in the recent Assembly elections, Pakistan, demonetisation and Urjit Patel’s sudden resignation as the RBI governor.

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In his reaction to PM Modi’s interview, Congress’s chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala described it as “bereft of ground reality” and having “jumlas (rhetoric) galore”.

“Modiji’s interview looks like a parody,” Surjewala charged, adding “(Even as) Nation suffers ~ DeMo, Gabbar Singh Tax (GST), bank frauds, black money, Rs 15 lakh in every account, corruption in Rafale deal, price rise, national security imperilled, farm distress, and ‘acche din’.”

“Summary of Modiji’s ‘monologue’ interview: ‘I’, ‘Me’, ‘Mine’, ‘Myself’. Country is suffering your ‘I’s & ‘Lies’!” Surjewala tweeted.

Senior Congress leader Anand Sharma said the people cannot be “fooled” through a “fixed interview” and dared PM Modi to face Parliament and a press conference. “Having betrayed the people, do not beg Lord Ram to save you. He did not ask you to lie in the first place,” Sharma tweeted.

He said, “PM Modi did not spare our people of his penchant for false promises, hollow claims and propaganda even on the New Year day. The habitual peddler of untruths and lies has signalled a nasty narrative for the 2019 election campaign.”

Taking on PM Modi over his claims on surgical strikes, Sharma charged, “It is a national shame that the Prime Minister seeks to politicise the surgical strike and divide the country.”

Hitting back at the Congress, BJP spokesperson Nalin Kohli charged it was not surprising that the former was “desperately working overtime” to “negate the positive message” of the PM’s comments.

Kohli said, “It is a comprehensive, detailed and candid interview in which the PM has spoken on a wide range of issues that have been in the media space for some time. This interview completely demolishes the motivated agenda of Opposition parties and vested interests that seek to malign the sterling performance of his government.”

Echoing similar views, another BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain reportedly said, “All the false narratives that the Opposition was trying to build for many months were demolished by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in just one interview. That’s the power of truth and commitment.”

In the interview, PM Modi categorically said an ordinance to build a Ram Temple could be considered only after legal process got over. He also said the general elections were going to be “Janta versus ‘gathbandhan (Opposition grand alliance)”.

Taking a dig at the Congress and the Gandhis, Modi said the family that ran the country for four generations was out on bail for financial irregularities.

The PM said demonetisation was needed because money had to be brought into the mainstream.

About Urjit Patel, Modi said, “The governor himself requested (to resign) because of personal reasons. I am revealing for the first time, he was telling me about this for the past six-seven months before his resignation. He gave it even in writing. He wrote to me personally.”