The Congress on Tuesday lodged a police complaint against the BJP chief JP Nadda, Union minister Smriti Irani, and leaders B L Santosh and Sambit Patra. The party accused BJP of citing a "fake toolkit" to defame it and sought to book the BJP leaders for sharing and creating fake news".
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said India would not have been in such a painful situation if access to vaccines was made as easy as arresting people for raising questions in the Modi 'system' and noted, "Stop Corona, not questions raised by the public."
Addressing a joint press conference, party's research cell head Rajeev Gowda and spokesperson Pawan Khera said instead of helping people during the COVID-19 pandemic, the BJP is stooping to low-level politics, asserting that it will neither bow nor be cowed down to such pressure tactics.
They claimed this is being done to divert the attention of people from the government's failures in handling the COVID pandemic that has led to a large number of deaths across the country in the wake of shortage of ICU beds, oxygen and essential medicines.
"The BJP is propagating a fake 'toolkit' on 'COVID-19 mismanagement' and attributing it to AICC research department. We have filed a complaint with Delhi Police commissioner for registering an FIR of forgery and other relevant sections of law against JP Nadda, Smriti Irani, BL Santosh and Sambit Patra," Gowda said.
"When our country is devastated by COVID, instead of providing relief, BJP shamelessly concocts forgeries," he also alleged.
"This outrageous behaviour of the BJP we have taken up with the police authorities so far and we mean to take it further with authorities of platforms like twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Now, basic point is that what these people have done is fraud and forgery and this is a crime, which needs to be taken up with the police and that is the agenda that we are pursuing right now," Gowda said.
Khera said, " You cannot scare us into silence. We are not afraid".
"BJP president J P Nadda, party spokesperson Sambit Patra, Union minister Smriti Irani and BJP general secretary BL Santosh and others in connivance with each other had forged, fabricated and manufactured the said documents on the letterhead of AICC Research Department and printed such material on the same which has to potential of creating communal disharmony, civil unrest in the country and the said document is being utilized by the BJP to spread fake news which has to potential to be escalated into violence and fueling hate at the hands of BJP leaders directly," the complaint made by Gowda and Congress Social media cell chairman Rohan Gupta said.
"It is stated that in delicate and tough times like this when the nation is fighting to survive against the COVID-19 virus the BJP functionaries are sharing and creating fake news with intent to create communal disharmony and civil unrest in the country, in order to divert attention of the people from the failures of the Modi government of handling the pandemic," the complaint further said and demanded registration of an FIR on basis of this and punishing them strictly in accordance with law.
The opposition party was reacting after the BJP alleged that Congress wants to tarnish the image of the country and Prime Minister Narendra Modi by calling the new strain of the coronavirus the "India strain" or the "Modi strain".
Citing a purported Congress toolkit, Patra said according to the document, it is clear that the Congress extending help to the needy during the pandemic is "more of a public relations exercise with the help of friendly journalists and influencers than a soulful endeavour".
However, Congress spokesperson Supriya Shrinate at a virtual press conference claimed that there is no such document as shown by the BJP spokesperson and the party was initiating legal action.
The party's chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said, "Soon after the BJP forged the 'fake toolkit', all its 'fake devotees' and 'friends in the media' came out to set the agenda."
"But, the truth about their misdeeds will not be left hidden," he said.
Khera alleged that the Prime Minister is only worried only about saving his false image and not about vaccines, even as people are dying due to Covid but he only wants to attain the position of "vaccine guru" in the world.
He also alleged that such toolkits are brought out by the BJP the moment someone raises questions on the government as has been done by them in the past during students agitation, anti-CAA protests and the farmers agitation.
This has exposed the ugly face of the BJP once again, he said, asking that instead of answering questions, the ruling party is accusing those who raise questions and target them.
"Instead of answering questions, the BJP way is to defame and attack those raising questions. That is the BJP toolkit. That is why the country in such a state today with people dying due to Covid amid shortage of essential drugs and oxygen," he said, alleging that the government's priorities are misplaced and had it spent half of this time to helping those affected by corona, India would have been far better.
"In your attempts to make Mr Modi become a leader, the country is being made to suffer. Address the crisis instead of resorting to such tactics," he said.
Shrinate alleged that the government's priorities are misplaced as it was resorting to such "tactics" instead of helping the COVID affected.
"We never expected that the national spokesperson of the BJP would resort to such blatant lies," she said.
Meanwhile, Nadda hit out the Congress, alleging that the opposition party is a "master" at "dividing society and spewing venom against others".
"India is seeing the Congress' antics, while the nation is fighting COVID-19. I would urge Congress to go beyond 'Toolkit Models' and do something constructive," the BJP chief tweeted.
(With PTI inputs.)