Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday accused the Congress of bringing up his parents during election campaigns instead of participating in a debate on development issues, PTI reported. He also criticised Congress President Rahul Gandhi for defending the leaders of his party who have made such references.

“Two days ago, they dragged my mother’s name into a campaign rally and today I read they have dragged my father’s name who died 30 years ago and had nothing to do with politics, and ‘Namdaar’ [dynast – referring to Gandhi] is defending them [those making such remarks],” Modi said in Vidisha in poll-bound Madhya Pradesh. The state will vote in the Assembly elections on November 28.

Modi was referring to Congress leader Vilasrao Muttemwar’s remark that no one knows the prime minister’s parents while everyone knows Gandhi’s family. Modi said the Gandhi family was well-known because it has occupied positions of power in the country. “My mother sits in her house, prays, confines herself to a room, and has never visited Madhya Pradesh,” he said. “She does not even know the ‘ra’ of ‘rajneeti’ [politics].”

Modi claimed that no Congress leader would make such a statement without prior permission from Gandhi. “What has happened to the Congress party? ‘Naamdar’ [Gandhi] is tacitly supporting it,” he said. “The Congress is running out of steam in this election, so they have started dragging my parents into politics.”

Last week, accusing the Congress of dragging his mother into politics, Modi had claimed the Opposition did not have the courage to confront him. He was responding to Congress leader Raj Babbar, who had compared the decline in the value of the rupee to the age of Modi’s mother.

At another election rally in Rajasthan’s Alwar on Sunday, Modi accused the Congress of believing in “jatiwadi mansikta” [casteist mentality], the Hindustan Times reported. “Someone abuses my mother, someone questions my caste,” he said. Modi was referring to the comments about his caste made by Congress leader CP Joshi.

Rajasthan will hold the Assembly elections on December 7.