Prime Minister will come last. Let him debate with us first," Union Minister Salman Khurshid said.

Hitting back at Narendra Modi for his attack on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the Congress on Thursday said that he was indulging in “petty politics” and rejected as “tall talk” his challenge for a public debate.

“Prime Minister will come last. Let him debate with us first,” Union Minister Salman Khurshid said in New Delhi when asked about the Gujarat Chief Minister’s challenge to the PM.

He said Mr. Modi is “so restless to become something big in the country,” he forgets that this is a day when political differences are forgotten.

To a question about Mr. Modi comparing his speech with that of the Prime Minister, Mr. Khurshid said it was a case of “tall talk by a person with small stature (Chhota munh badi baat)".

“Petty politics must not be allowed...,” he said to a question at to whether politics is taking over Indo-Pak relationship.

Mr. Modi, in his Independence Day speech in Bhuj, had slammed the Prime Minister for India’s “weak and feeble” response to provocations from Pakistan and China.

The war of words between Mr. Modi and the Congress 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 relation to Sonia Gandhi and Mr. Khurshid wondering whether Mr. Modi was a “villain (Khalnayak)."

“And is he like Khalnayak? There was also ta film named Khalnayak. Khalnayak serial is also running. Ask him about that,” he said.

The Minister was talking to reporters at the AICC headquarters after the Congress President hoisted the national flag.

“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 based on corruption came and now it is moving towards a serial of Saas, Bahu and Damaad,” the Gujarat Chief Minister said.

While Mr. Khurshid advised Mr. Modi to desist from “patting his own back”, another Union Minister, Ghulam Nabi Azad, sought to dismiss attempts at comparison between Mr. Modi and the Prime Minister by quipping, “If today, I say that I am bigger than (Barack) Obama, people will call me mad.”

Mr. Azad also referred to a Hindi proverb to reject any comparison between the Prime Minister and Mr. Modi, wondering,“How can any CM give a challenge to a 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...”

“If somebody has no scheme, no programme and does politics only in the name of religion... what can we say about it,” Mr. Azad said when asked about the BJP leader’s criticism of the UPA Government’s programmes and policies.

He said: “There is one Prime Minister in the country, while the number of Chief Ministers is two-and-a-half dozen. I do not want to compare one Chief Minister out of them with the Prime Minister.

“For us, all Chief Ministers are the same. To whichever party they may belong, they are Chief Ministers for us. We also have a campaign committee, each political party has a campaign committee chairman. So there is nothing big about it.”

Mr. Khurshid also had a dig at the Gujarat Chief Minister over his “yes we can” speech in Hyderabad, saying it was an import from Mr. Obama’s speech, which someone prepared for him.

“If somebody gives him something in writing, he speaks that. Somebody wrote for him what Mr. Obama had said and he repeated 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,” the Minister added.

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