Congress President Rahul Gandhi has said that he only has love for Narendra Modi despite the prime minister insulting his father and former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, PTI reported. Gandhi made the remarks on Monday at a rally in Chandni Chowk in Delhi.

Modi had said in Uttar Pradesh’s Pratapgarh district on Saturday that Rajiv Gandhi had died a corrupt person. “Your [Rahul Gandhi’s] father was termed ‘Mr Clean’ by his courtiers, but his life ended as ‘Bhrashtachari No. 1’ [corrupt no. 1].” Modi was purportedly referring to the Bofors scam, in which Gandhi was implicated. Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated in 1991 in Sriperumbudur near Chennai.

The following day, the Congress had appealed to the Election Commission, seeking a campaign ban on Modi.

On Monday, Modi challenged the Congress to fight the Lok Sabha elections in the name of “Bofors accused” Rajiv Gandhi.

Responding to the remarks, Rahul Gandhi said Modi as prime minister had insulted a martyr. “I told him whatever hatred you have for me, you can belittle me, you can say whatever you say about my father, mother, grandfather, grandmother,” the Congress president added. “Whatever hatred you direct against me, I will only return it with love. Hatred can only be defeated by love. Remember, the same love will defeat you Narendra Modi ji on May 23.” The results of the Lok Sabha elections will be declared on May 23.

Congress leader Sam Pitroda also condemned Modi’s remarks. “I cannot believe that a man from Mahatma Gandhi’s soil Gujarat would go to that level and make a comment on someone who died with great honour,” PTI quoted him as saying.

Senior Congress leader Mallikarjuna Kharge said Modi’s comments reflect his frustration, PTI reported. Modi lacks political and practical knowledge, he added. “He did not get sanskar [culture] at home as he had fled home at a young age,” Kharge told reporters in Karnataka’s Kalaburagi district. “Where will he get it? People should have control over their tongue when speaking.”

Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel claimed Modi has lost “mental balance”. “He [Modi] needs medical treatment, he says he only gets to sleep for three to four hours, those who don’t get enough sleep tend to lose their mental balance,” ANI quoted the Congress leader as saying.

Baghel also said the United Progressive Alliance would form the next government with Rahul Gandhi at the helm.