The Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party engaged in a war of words on Tuesday after Rahul Gandhi’s address at the University of California in Berkeley, United States earlier in the day. Gandhi had said that most of India runs on dynastic succession, and accused the Narendra Modi-led government at the Centre of promoting violence and politics of polarisation.

Soon after, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s National Spokesperson Sambit Patra tweeted that Gandhi’s comments were his frustration speaking. “Astonishing that Congress VP Rahul Gandhi goes to US and slams his own Country, India”. Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah questioned the statement and said Gandhi had not slammed his own country. Patra replied that Gandhi saying India is a country of dynasts, and that India works like this is demeaning and deplorable.

He also told Times Now that Gandhi presumed that the wrongs committed by certain people reflected the idea of the entire country.

Congress leader Anand Sharma defended Gandhi’s statements and said Modi was guilty of insulting India on foreign soil. “When Modi went to Canada, he said India before him was a country that walked around with a beggar’s bowl in hand.” In contrast, Gandhi only spoke about India’s achievements since Independence, he said.

Democracy has a space for dissent, and the Bharatiya Janata Party’s statements against Gandhi’s speech show its intolerant nature, he added. “Even if the Prime Minister is being criticised it is acceptable in a democracy”. Why should anyone deny the problems that we face, he asked.

BJP President Amit Shah also responded to Gandhi’s remarks. “Failed leaders run off to the US to lecture as no one listens to them back home,” he said.

Earlier in the day, Union minister Smriti Irani had called Gandhi “a failed dynast,” who chose to speak about his “failed political journey in the United States”.

After failing to connect with the people of India, he has chosen a “platform of convenience to berate his political opponents”, she had added. “Him saying that dynasts and dynasties are the very fulcrum of India in itself is an anomaly.” Irani also denounced Gandhi for “belittling” the prime minister at an international platform.