Congress on Thursday dismissed Narendra Modi's attack on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh reminding him that the country has over two-and-a-half a dozen Chief Ministers and rejected as "tall talk" his challenge to Singh for a public debate on pressing issues.
The war of words between the two parties appeared to touch a new low with the Gujarat Chief Minister talking of a 'serial of Saas, Bahu and Damaad', an oblique reference to Robert Vadra's relationship with Sonia Gandhi and the ruling party wondering whether Modi was a "villain (Khalnayak)".
"And is he like Khalnayak? There was also that a film named Khalnayak. Khalnayak serial is also running. Ask him about that," Union Minister Salman Khurshid said.
He was talking to reporters at the AICC headquarters after the Congress President hoisted the national flag there. Khurshid's response came when asked about Modi's barb.
"Nepotism used to be the core of corruption in olden days TV serials...With passage of time it has changed. A new TV serial of Mama and Bhanja came in corruption and now its moving towards a serial of Saas, Bahu and Damaad," the Gujarat Chief Minister said in Bhuj.
While Khurshid advised Modi to desist from "patting his back", another Union Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad sought to dismiss attempts of comparison between Modi and the Prime Minister by quipping, "If today I say that I am bigger than (Barack) Obama, people will call me mad."
Azad also referred to a Hindi proverb to reject any comparison between the Prime Minister and Modi, wondering, "How can any CM give a challenge to PM. Where is the comparison between Raja Bhoj and Gangu..." He added, "Who has stopped anybody from giving a challenge. Sitting in one's home everyone is a tiger..."
Khurshid also had a dig at the Gujarat Chief Minister over his "yes we can" speech in Hyderabad, saying it was an import from Obama's speech, which someone prepared for him.
"If somebody gives him something in writing, he speaks that. Somebody wrote for him what Obama had said and he said that also. He said yes we can... Now we will have to see, whose written text he is reading from when he talks about Pakistan, Europe, America and India," he said.
Replying to questions about Modi's criticism of India's foreign policy, Khurshid shot back reminding the Gujarat Chief Minister that he was denied a visa by the US to visit that country.
"He is dealing so well that he does not get even a visa to go abroad," Khurshid said.
He also attacked Modi for his statements on India's handling of Pakistan, saying that the Gujarat Chief Minister should have thought what impact it will have.
"I ask him today can he hurt the country's interests also to serve his own interests?" Khursid said.
Taking on Modi for his criticism of the Prime Minister's Independence Day speech, he said, "India's Prime Minister, whoever he is and to whichever party he belongs, is today a symbol of India's determination, aspiration.
"I am sorry that someone doesn't even understand the fundamental basic thing about Indian political ethos.. If he (Modi) wants to praise himself, let him do. But Modi should have kept patience at least for today. Today is a historic day which connects us with our freedom struggle. If Modi has not understood this and has no knowledge about this, I feel pity on him..."
To a questions about Modi comparing his speech with that of the Prime Minister, Khurshid said it was a case of tall talk by a person with small stature.
"Chhota Munh badi baat (Tall talk by a person with small stature). He should have let the country say that people are listening to him. He himself is saying that the country is listening to him. What will the thinking of such a person.
"What kind of leadership he will provide to the country is a matter of great concern for us. He should have the patience to wait for the reaction of the people on what he says. He does not wait even that much. He first says something and then pats himself and keeps on doing it. Politics in this country does not happen that way," he said.