A “tea-seller like Narendra Modi” was able to become the prime minister of India because the Congress governments that preceded him “preserved democracy”, said senior parliamentarian Mallikarjun Kharge on Sunday. Kharge, recently put in charge of Congress’ Maharashtra unit, was addressing party workers in Mumbai.

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been asking, at every function, about what the Congress has done for the country in the past 70 years,” Kharge said, according to PTI. “A chaiwala like him could become prime minister because we preserved democracy.”

The Congress leader also hit out at Modi for his criticism of the Emergency imposed by former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1975.

“There have been consistent attacks on the character of Indira Gandhi, Rajiv and Sonia Gandhi,” Kharge said. “It is a deliberate attack by the BJP [Bharatiya Janata Party]. Modi speaks about the Emergency that happened 43 years back, but what about the unproclaimed Emergency in the last four years? Farmers are committing suicide, agricultural schemes are failing, farmers are not getting new loans and trade is on the slow track.”

He said the government had failed to perform on all fronts. “The government’s expenditure on advertising is unstoppable,” he said. “Acche din [good days] will come into the lives of people once the Modi government is dethroned.”

Kharge also said the prime minister’s promises were far removed from the reality, according to The New Indian Express. “He calls Congress the ‘bail gaadi’ [bullock cart], but people know that the bullet train would be bringing in most number of criminals.”

He asked how bullet trains would run while “one or the other bridge is falling every other day”.