BJP today hit back at the Congress and asked it to introspect after Sonia Gandhi alleged that there is an increase in incidents of communal violence ever since the Narendra Modi government came to power in May.
The ruling party also sought to blame the Congress for playing communal politics and challenged it to come up with proof to substantiate its allegations or seek an apology from the people of the country.
The BJP accused Congress leaders of making such statements out of frustration and said it would not be able to stop the government from its development agenda and taking the country forward.
"Congress and communalism go hand and hand. It is the Congress party's divisive politics and communal agenda which has brought the country to this state.
"That is why Congress has suffered a major setback in the recent elections and they should introspect. Stop such baseless allegations," Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu said.
BJP general secretary Rajiv Pratap Rudy said he did not know from where Gandhi had got the numbers regarding the communal incidents.
"I do not know where does the Congress president get these numbers from. But of course she has failed to recall the fact that all these communal incidents which, they are talking about has happened in Uttar Pradesh. They should make an answer to the people of this country," he said.
BJP's media cell incharge Shrikant Sharma said Congress should either come up with proof to prove the allegations or else seek an apology from the people of the country.
Minister of State in PMO Jitendra Singh said one should not attach much importance to the remarks as one lives in the "evidence-based era of arguments" and that the Prime Minister and Home Minister had already made its position clear on this.
Attacking Modi Government over communal violence, Gandhi claimed today there has been an increase in such incidents in parts of the country since it came to power and charged this was part of a "deliberate attempt" to divide the people on religious lines.
"More than 600 incidents of communal violence happened in Uttar Pradesh and, perhaps, as many in Maharashtra," she claimed, adding that "during the UPA I and II rule hardly any such incident had happened
Gandhi was speaking at a party forum in Thiruvananthapuram for the first time after Congress' debacle in the Lok Sabha polls and her attack came days after Rahul Gandhi alleged that communal conflicts in Uttar Pradesh have been "deliberately engineered" and had stormed into the well of Lok Sabha.
Apparently referring to the recent incidents of communal clashes in Uttar Pradesh, Naidu said Gandhi should also take up the issue with the Samajwadi Party government, which had supported it at the Centre in the last 10 years.
Rudy said Congress was supporting the SP government in Uttar Pradesh and was thus equally responsible for what is happening in the state.
"Congress wants to destroy the social fabric of the country," alleged Shrikant Sharma, adding that, "Congress and other communal parties will not be able to stop the government from taking forward its development agenda."
He said the statements by Gandhi, Rahul and Digvijay Singh was a result of Congress's frustration over its drubbing in the Lok Sabha polls, which he said, the party was unable to come to terms with.
Gandhi said that the recurrence of communal violence in Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and other parts of the country was a "matter of grave concern". It was a deliberate attempt to divide society, she said.
"There has been an increase in communal violence in the country in the 11 weeks since the BJP-led government came to power at the Centre... These were deliberately created to divide the people," Gandhi said at a special convention organised by Kerala Congress.
Prime Minister Modi had in his speech at the BJP's National Council meet on August 9 blamed "vote-bank politics" of Congress and the ruling SP in UP for riots in the state.
Sonia Gandhi is trying to incite communal riots thinking that it will help her party. That is the whole strategy.