narendra modi
Prime Minister Narendra ModiReuters

In one of his sharpest attacks on Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday said that she had been an "unconstitutional" authority exercising "real" power over the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) during the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) rule.

Dismissing Sonia's accusation that the NDA government was arrogant in Parliament and that power centred around only one person, Modi told PTI in an interview, "Perhaps, she is referring to the fact that earlier extra-constitutional authorities were the ones really wielding power."

The prime minister insisted that power was now "wielded only by constitutional means" and added that if the charge is that "we are working through constitutional channels and not listening to any extra constitutional authorities, then I plead guilty to that charge."

"Your question is loaded. It would have been better if this question had been asked when an unconstitutional authority was sitting above the constitutional authority and exercising power over the PMO," Modi told PTI in reply to a question, emphasising that "the prime minister and the PMO are very much part of the constitutional scheme, not outside it."

Countering Rahul Gandhi's "suit-boot ki sarkar" jibe, Modi said that the Congress had not been able to "digest" its crushing defeat in the Lok Sabha election even after a year had passed.

"The people have punished them for their sins of omission and commission. We thought they would learn from this, but it looks as though they are proving right the earlier saying that if con is the opposite of pro, then Congress is the opposite of progress," Modi said.