Controversy Over Raj Babbar’s “Rupee Nearing PM Mother’s Age” Remark

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Congress leader Raj Babbar made this remark during a rally in Madhya Pradesh's Indore.

New Delhi:

Senior Congress leader Raj Babbar has added to what has been widely criticised as a series of embarrassing remarks by his party members ahead of polls in Rajasthan and four other states. On Thursday, Mr Babbar referenced Prime Minister Narendra Modi's mother during his campaign in Madhya Pradesh to describe the free fall of rupee.

He condemned PM Modi's choice of words to attack former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during the UPA government, but likened the devalued rate of the rupee to the age of prime minister's mother in the same sentence.

His statement has been slammed by the BJP leaders who have demanded an immediate apology.

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"… unke shabdon ke baarein mein bata raha hun (telling you about his language). PM Modi used to compare rupee's value with the former prime minister's age and said the rupee had fallen so much that it was nearing his age. Pradhan mantri mahoday, apne toh izzat se naam nahi liya, humare sanskar yeh nahi kehte. Hum toh yeh kehna chahenge ki rupaya aapki pujaniye mata ji ki umr ke kareeb neeche girna shuru ho gaya hai aaj kal (Mr Prime Minister, you didn't take his name with respect, but our culture doesn't allow that. We will only say that the value of rupee is now inching closer to your mother's age)," Mr Babbar said during his rally.

PM Modi's mother Heeraben Modi is 98. The rupee has seen a continued fall against the robust US dollar this year. It settled at a little over the 70-mark today.

BJP's national spokesperson Sambit Patra said use of unparliamentary language or to drag any person's mother into politics was unacceptable.

"The Congress' attitude against the prime minister's mother has been improper since the beginning. Rahul Gandhi should apologise and clarify whether he endorses such controversial statements," Mr Patra told reporters in Indore.

Gujarat Chief Minister and senior BJP leaders Vijay Rupani attributed such statements to the Congress party's loss in "one state after the other".

"We strongly condemn his statement in which he dragged PM Modi's mother. It shows your mansik ghatiyapan (mental bankruptcy). The Congress is stooping so low because it is losing one state after the other. One should maintain dignity in politics. He should immediately apologise," Mr Rupani said.

Congress leader Hanumantha Rao, however, backed his party colleague and said whatever Raj Babbar said was true. "The exchange rate has increased. What did they do in so many years? PM Modi should speak about this," he said.

Before Mr Babbar's gaffe, a video of a former union minister's comments at an election rally created a furore. In the video, Congress' CP Joshi was heard lashing out at PM Modi and Union Minister Uma Bharti in Rajasthan's Nathdwara, from where he is contesting the December 7 election.

But Congress chief Rahul Gandhi was quick to reprimand him asking him to apologise for his statement that "only Brahmins know enough to talk about Hinduism".

"CP Joshi's comments are against the Congress party's principles. No party leader should make statements that hurt any section of the society. I am sure Joshiji has realized his mistake in view of the Congress's beliefs and workers' sentiment," Mr Gandhi tweeted this morning.

Earlier this week, the Congress' Madhya Pradesh chief Kamal Nath was caught on video apparently saying if Muslims didn't vote for the Congress, it was doomed.

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