"Modi may be an asset to the BJP but he is a national embarrassment. I can say this without any hesitation. He is boastful and makes tall claims about the development model of Gujarat," Union Minister Anand Sharma told reporters. (Agencies)
In Dehradun, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said Modi was like a frog. "What should I say about Modi? He is like a frog just out of the well and at a loss to find the right place for himself in the big wide world," he said in response to a question.
Ridiculing Gujarat strongman and BJP's election campaign committee chief for challenging Singh for a public debate, Khurshid said Modi was quite keen that Congress accepts him as a challenge.
"We are fighting the election against the BJP. First he (Modi) should get hold over the BJP. Thereafter we will see, whether he is a challenge or not. Right now he is not being able to convince BJP itself," he said.
Hitting back at Modi, Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh accused him of "crossing all limits in over-ambition" by his no-holds bar attack on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Latching on to L K Advani's apparent disapproval of Modi's attack on the Prime Minister in Bhuj on Thursday, Digvijay took potshots at Modi for his "abrasive hunger for power which has no limits".
"On Modi's Independence (Day) Speech, I and Advaniji are on the same page. Modi's abrasive hunger for power has no limits," Singh wrote on microblogging site Twitter.
Talking to reporters, he later added, "The manner in which Modi has targeted the Prime Minister, he has broken all the established norms and traditions. It is his over-ambition, which is behind all this. Now there is no limit for him.
"He (Modi) has crossed all limits. Now it should be a worry for BJP leaders that how long will they keep carrying such an over-ambitious person on their shoulders."
Taking on Modi, Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari said when the Prime Minister speaks from the ramparts of Red Fort, he represents the hopes and aspirations of 120 crore people of the country and if anybody thinks that he can compare one's speech with that of the PM's speech, "nothing can reflect one's desperation more".
Advani, who has voiced reservations about the elevation of Modi as BJP's national election campaign chief, had said that on a day like Independence Day, leaders should not be critical of others.
Backing Advani, Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut had said there are 364 other days in the year to comment on the Prime Minister and that leaders should try to avoid politics on the occasion of Independence Day.
In his Independence Day speech, Modi had blamed the Prime Minister for not taking a strong stand on Pakistan, failing to revive the economy and for massive corruption in the country. He had also challenged the Prime Minister to a public debate on governance, saying the nation is "restless for change".
Congress had on Friday slammed Modi for attacking the Prime Minister, saying he was "so restless to become something big in the country" that he forgets that this is a day when political differences are forgotten.
On Modi daring the Prime Minister for a public debate, Khurshid had said, "Prime Minister will come last. Let him debate with us first."
To a question about Modi comparing his speech with that of the Prime Minister, Khurshid said it was a case of "tall talk by a person with small stature (Chhota munh badi baat).
The war of words between Modi and Congress appeared to touch a new low with the Gujarat Chief Minister talking of a 'serial of Saas, Bahu and Damaad', an oblique reference to Robert Vadra's relationship with Sonia Gandhi and Khurshid wondering whether Modi was a "villain (Khalnayak)".
"And is he like Khalnayak? There was also that a film named Khalnayak. Khalnayak serial is also running. Ask him about that," Khurshid had said.
"Modi may be an asset to the BJP but he is a national embarrassment. I can say this without any hesitation. He is boastful and makes tall claims about the development model of Gujarat," Union Minister Anand Sharma told reporters.