Varanasi/Behraich: A day after Rahul Gandhi hurled corruption charges, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday mocked at him, asking where was the "earthquake" the Congress leader had been threatening. But an unrelenting Gandhi reiterated his allegations.
"There is a youth leader in the Congress who has just learnt to speak. I am glad he has started to speak now," the Prime Minister said sarcastically at an event at the Banaras Hindu University, triggering loud cheers.
"In 2009, it was very difficult to find out what was inside this packet. Good he has started speaking. Had he not spoken, the county would have faced a big earthquake. And the country could not have recovered for 10 years," Modi added in his Lok Sabha constituency.
Gandhi had been threatening for days to make damning disclosures against Modi that he said would cause an "earthquake". On Wednesday, he said in Gujarat that Income Tax documents showed Modi took bribes from corporates when he was the state Chief Minister.
Later, at another event after inaugurating a super-speciality 150-bed hospital in Varanasi, Modi likened the attacks on his government over the note ban to the cover fire given by the Pakistan Army to help terrorists sneak into India.
"After all the 'too-too-main-main' in Parliament recently, I often wondered why all this till I realised this was being done to provide cover fire to protect some corrupt people," he said.
"Never had I anticipated such stiff opposition over demonetisation."
The Prime Minister's onsalaught came after the entire winter session of Parliament was virtually washed out over demonetisation of high value currency that has led to an unprecedented cash crunch in the country.
He alleged that some politicians and political parties were siding with the corrupt and those hoarding black money.
"Chalo achcha hua, isi bahane logon ka kala dhan aur kala mann bahar aa raha hai (It's good to see that both black money and those with evil intentions are getting exposed)," Modi said.
Modi was on a day-long trip to Varanasi where he laid foundation stones of several projects and addressed Bharatiya Janata Party activists.
Hours after his first Varanasi jibe, Gandhi hit back.
Addressing a "Jan Aakrosh" rally in Bahraich, also in election-bound Uttar Pradesh, the Congress leader said: "Make as much fun of me as you like... but answer my question.
"Today the Prime Minister mocked at me but did not answer my questions. I will ask the same question again. Did you indulge in corruption or not?"
Gandhi reiterated that seized Income Tax department documents showed that Modi got kickbacks of Rs 65 crore from two corporate houses and asked him to come clean on this.
He vowed to raise the issue in Parliament too.
"He (Modi) got kickbacks in nine instalments over a period of six months. On November 22, 2014 there was a raid on Sahara. The Income Tax Department raided them and seized their records," Gandhi alleged.
"This record is with the Income Tax department for two-and-a-half years. Income Tax people had said there should be a probe into this. There is one more record of the Birla Group... 'Gujarat CM (to be paid) Rs 25 crore, Rs 12 crore paid, the rest?' This is what is written there," Gandhi added.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal demanded to know why the Congress did not rake up corruption charges against then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi in 2013.
This could be because of a "deal" between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress, the Aam Aadmi Party leader said in a video statement.
A Congress-led coalition ruled India from 2004 to 2014, when Modi became the Prime Minister.
Later, addressing a rally in Ranchi, Kejriwal reiterated his allegations that Modi took huge bribes when he was the Gujarat Chief Minister. On Wednesday, he sought a Supreme Court monitored probe into the allegations.