Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Thursday called Prime Minister Narendra Modi a coward for not debating him on the Rafale deal. The Congress chief then challenged the prime minister to a debate on national security and other matters.

“Let met debate with Modi for 10 minutes on the matter,” he added. “He [Modi] will run. He is a darpok [coward].”

Gandhi, who addressed the party’s National Minorities Conference in New Delhi, said that of late there has been fear in Modi’s eyes. “When you see Mr Modi’s face today, you can see fear,” he claimed. “He has realised that by dividing the nation, he cannot govern the country, and people will remove him if he does.”

On January 2, Gandhi had challenged the prime minister to a 20-minute debate on the subject. The Congress has accused the Centre of signing an overpriced deal and helping Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence Ltd, which had no prior experience in the sector before landing a contract with Dassault Aviation that manufactures the fighter jets.

The Opposition leader accused Modi of dividing the nation and neglecting minority communities. He claimed that the Congress would defeat the Bharatiya Janata Party and not allow the country to be run from Nagpur, the headquarters of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. The RSS is the ideological parent of the BJP.

The Congress chief claimed that Modi had visited Beijing and conducted a dialogue with the Chinese government without any agenda. “The Chinese government realised Mr. 56 inch is not even four inches,” Gandhi said. “This is Mr Modi’s character, he bowed down to China on the Doklam issue.” He was referring to the standoff between India and China in the Doklam region in 2017.

In his speech on Thursday, Gandhi also cited the press conference held by four Supreme Court judges last year at which questions were raised about how the top court was being run. The Congress leader claimed that this was an example of the way the Centre was interfering in government agencies. “The country is going to show the BJP that they are above not the party and not the other way around,” Gandhi added.

‘Will scrap triple talaq bill if voted to power’

Speaking at the event, Mahila Congress President Sushmita Dev said the party would do away with the triple talaq bill if voted to power in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, ANI reported. The legislation aims to make the practise of instant triple talaq illegal.

Last month, the government promulgated a new ordinance on the matter after its legislation failed to get Parliament’s approval during the Winter Session.

“The Congress opposed it in Parliament and I promise you that the Congress government will come in 2019 and we will scrap this law,” she said. Opposition parties have demanded that the bill be sent to a select committee for consideration.

Dev claimed that Modi was using the bill as a tool to imprison Muslim men. “Lately, a triple talaq law was brought in and through this Prime Minister Narendra Modi has created an atmosphere of confrontation between Muslim men and women,” she said. “I am proud that crores of Muslim women wrote letters and campaigned to oppose it.