Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that it is his “45 years of toil” and not the “Khan Market gang or Lutyens Delhi” that has created his image, and it cannot be dismantled, The Indian Express reported on Sunday. Khan Market is one of Delhi’s poshest localities. Modi took the jibe at the elite class in an interview with the newspaper.

Modi claimed the inherent feeling for Congress President Rahul Gandhi is to dismantle the prime minister’s image anyhow. He was referring to Gandhi’s interview to NDTV earlier this month in which he claimed that Modi’s clean image has been shattered because of the controversy surrounding the Rafale jet deal. “The prime minister can’t stand on a stage and say the things he was saying in 2014. We have dismantled the Prime Minister of India,” Gandhi had claimed in the interview.

Modi criticised Gandhi for the comment. “Modi’s image has not been created by the Khan Market gang, or Lutyens Delhi, but 45 years of his toil… good or bad,” the prime minister told The Indian Express in an interview. “You cannot dismantle it. But Lutyens and the Khan Market gang created an image for a former Prime Minister [Rajiv Gandhi], ‘Mr Clean, Mr Clean’; how did it end up?”

In his interview, Modi defended making the allegation that Rajiv Gandhi had used a naval ship for a family holiday. He said that it was a response to a statement by Rahul Gandhi at a press conference that “the Army isn’t a personal jaagir [property] of Modi”. “Then I have to say what’s it like to have a personal fiefdom,” Modi said.

The allegation was not new, and was reported even earlier, but admirals did not speak out then, Modi said. Modi was referring to former Chief of Navy Retired Admiral L Ramdas who on Thursday had refuted Modi’s claim, saying that Rajiv Gandhi and his wife Sonia Gandhi were on board the warship to visit Lakshadweep to chair a meeting of the Islands Development Authority in December 1987.

Referring to the criticism he faced after calling Rajiv Gandhi “corrupt no.1”, Modi said, “You tell me, ‘chor’ [thief] has been a democratic word for the last one year but ‘corrupt’ is a derogatory word for you. What is this dictionary of yours? All I said publicly was that Rajiv Gandhi passed away with this kind of image.”

The prime minister said demonetisation was a measure against corruption and to crack down on black money. “Through our initiatives against black money, have we not brought undisclosed income of Rs 1.30 lakh crore to tax? Have 3.38 lakh shell companies not been detected and de-registered? Have their directors not been disqualified?” he said.

Modi said those who played the politics of vote bank used Muslims to seek votes but did not bring them into the mainstream. “These MPs/MLAs who call themselves secular, have they given leadership to any Muslim?” Modi told the newspaper. “Rahul Gandhi is Congress president. Can’t a Muslim get that job? Why did he not ensure that?”

Modi also said the way ahead with Pakistan depends on Islamabad’s action against terrorism.