The Leader of Opposition and Congress MP, Rahul Gandhi, on Monday launched a scathing attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the Lok Sabha, by showing posters of religious figures, including Lord Shiva – which was opposed by Speaker Om Birla. He further triggered a row by saying that those who call themselves Hindus are engaged in “violence and hate”.

Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Rahul Gandhi (Sansad TV)

Holding a picture of Lord Shiva, Gandhi began his address in the Lok Sabha with “Jai Samvidhan” and said that his message is about “fearlessness” and “non-violence”.

“If you look at Lord Shiva’s image, you would know that Hindus can never spread fear and hatred, but BJP spreads fear and hatred 24/7…All religions and all our great men talk about non-violence and fearlessness, but those who call themselves Hindus only talk about violence, hatred and falsehood…Aap Hindu ho hi nahi (You are not Hindus),” the Congress leader said.

The Congress MP also displayed placards featuring images of Guru Nanak, Jesus Christ, and a quote from the Quran, and reiterated that all religions, including Hinduism, Islam and Sikhism, emphasise courage and the importance of being fearless.

Gandhi, who addressed the Lok Sabha for the first time as the Leader of the Opposition, drew massive protests from the members of the treasury benches and the BJP as he triggered a row after slamming the ruling BJP with his “Hindus” remark.

Modi also interrupted Gandhi’s speech and asserted that calling the entire Hindu society “violent” is a “serious matter.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah has sought an apology from the Raebareli MP for “hurting the feelings” of crores of people who take pride in identifying themselves as Hindus.

However, Gandhi retorted that he was speaking only about the BJP and not the entire Hindu society. “The BJP, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) or Modi are not the entire Hindu society,” he said.