The Congress on Monday hit back at the Bharatiya Janata Party for criticising party chief Rahul Gandhi after he told the Supreme Court that a remark he made on the court’s verdict in the Rafale case was misused by opponents. The party said the BJP’s “blasphemous misrepresentation” of Gandhi’s reply to the court amounted to contempt of court.

Bharatiya Janata Party MP Meenakshi Lekhi had moved the court last week, claiming that Gandhi had attributed his remark “chowkidar chor hai” in context of the verdict to the top court. Gandhi and his party often use the slogan to target Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has repeatedly referred to himself a “chowkidar” or watchman.

On Monday, Gandhi told the top court that he made the remark “in the heat of political campaigning” and his words were “deliberately sought to be distorted and made tendentious” for political purposes.

The BJP demanded an apology from Gandhi and said that according to public opinion he is a “liar of the first order”, PTI reported. BJP spokesperson GVL Narasimha Rao claimed that by filing an affidavit in the Supreme Court, Gandhi had accepted that he had lied. Rao tweeted that the party was waiting for the Election Commission’s decision on the matter.

Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala criticised the BJP for targetting Gandhi. “BJP’s blasphemous misrepresentation of Rahuljis reply to the SC is itself a criminal contempt of court proceedings,” Surjewala said on Twitter. “Issue is sub-judice, stop passing verdict today!...We reiterate– only one watchman is a thief.”

He said: “Fakery has no boundaries. Lies no limitations, Disinformation no confines!”

Surjewala also said that Modi and his “bhakt channels” are habitual offenders in “spewing lies”. “Didn’t Modiji in an interview to ANI say that “matter [Rafale] has been cleared by SC”?” he asked on Twitter. Didn’t Modiji tell New Indian Express on 16 April, that “SC [and] CAG [Comptroller and Auditor General of India] have cleared Rafale Deal”? Is he not guilty of Contempt of Court?”

Gandhi, in his response to the Supreme Court, made a reference to “false and untrue” remarks by several BJP leaders, including Narendra Modi, about the court’s earlier verdict in the Rafale deal case. He said these leaders had often said that the Supreme Court had given a “clean chit” to the Rafale deal, which was not true.