Rahul Gandhi links PM Narendra Modi with Nirav, Mehul Choksi

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London : Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Saturday stepped up his attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying there is a "relationship" between him and bank fraud accused Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi. He also alleged that fugitive offender Vijay Mallya had met BJP leaders before he left the country.

At an interaction with Indian Journalists' Association here, Gandhi compared Modi with US President Donald Trump, saying people have been voting for them as they are angry because they do not have jobs.

He also said that Indian prisons were "decent places" for Mallya, whose extradition has been sought by India.

He accused Modi of centralising authority and alleged that External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has been "humiliated" on every count.

Notwithstanding BJP's attack on him, he again compared RSS with the radical Islamlist outfit Muslim Brotherhood.

Gandhi spoke on a range of issues such as Doklam stand-off, bullet train, demonetisation and jobs, criticising the Modi government on each of them.

"There is a relationship between Nirav Modi, Choksi and the Prime Minister. And these relationships come in the middle of justice. Indian banks gave Rs 35,000 crore loan to Nirav Modi. Narendra Modi let him run away from India," he said.

Gandhi said the government did not act on time to arrest Nirav Modi and Choksi despite having received complaints against them.

He alleged that Mallya's meetings with BJP leaders were documented.

"Before leaving India, Mallya met a few senior leaders of BJP and that's documented. I won't name who, but he did meet them," he said.

He also referred to efforts by Mallya to prevent his extradition to India.

"I think Indian prisons are very descent places as far as Mallya is concerned. Justice should be the same for Indian people. It shouldn't be just because you are Mallya and have Rs 9,000 crore in the bank that you require a different jail," he said.

Gandhi said Modi views foreign affairs as events. "There is no structure. The Foreign Minister spends most of her time in making VISAs, that's not her job as a Foreign Minister. She has been humiliated on every count," he said.

Answering a query, Gandhi said: "People support populist leaders like Trump and Modi because they are angry that they don't have a job. Instead of solving this problem, these leaders ride on that anger. They damage the country by this."

On Doklam, he said Chinese have built "huge infrastructure" in the territory but Modi during his informal visit to China had a "conversation without agenda" and did not discuss the issue.

"We have serious challenges coming from the Chinese. We have to focus on that," Gandhi said answering another query.

Gandhi alleged Muslim Brotherhood and RSS use democratic processes to capture power. "There is a lot of similarity between Muslim Brotherhood and RSS."

He said he had learnt a lot in the past 15 years in politics and it was for people to judge him by his capability or go by his family name.

Gandhi also referred to his remarks on healthcare, saying he had been mocked at.

"We are sitting on a healthcare goldmine. There are medical experts in every country. Healthcare itself can create a strategic transformation of our country. But there's no conversation on it," he said.

On Modi's project of bullet train, he said it is not moving. "You can have a fancy poster of bullet train, but the cost of a ticket in bullet train is more than an airline ticket."

Gandhi said he was fighting an ideological battle in the 2019 elections.

"I realised after 2014, that there is a risk to the Indian State. By the consensus among all leaders of Opposition parties, the emphasis is that the RSS is systematically attacking organisations and placing their people into them...We need a coalition building where every stakeholder is heard."

Asked if the party will align with CPI-M or Trinamool Congress in West Bengal in 2019 elections, Gandhi said he will take inputs from the state unit and it has not been decided one way or the other.

Gandhi said Modi does not interact with the media and asked the Indian Journalists' Association if the PM will accept their invitation. "You must figure out," Gandhi said.