Nagpur/Ahmedabad: Veteran politician Sharad Pawar on Tuesday condemned the Prime Minister’s insinuations against predecessor Manmohan Singh with a “shame on you” and Rahul Gandhi termed Narendra Modi’s comments “unacceptable”, but Modi continued to portray himself as the one sinned against, says a PTI report.
The Prime Minister had on Sunday insinuated that Singh had facilitated Pakistani meddling in the Gujarat elections during an allegedly secret meeting with dignitaries from that country at party colleague Mani Shankar Aiyar’s home.
“Shame on you, Prime Minister, for making such allegations. You have made the allegations against this country’s former Prime Minister and former defence officials,” Pawar, Nationalist Congress Party chief and former defence minister, told a joint Congress-NCP rally on farmers’ problems in Nagpur.
He castigated Modi for “deliberately” misconstruing what the Congress has clarified was a dinner meeting hosted for Aiyar’s Pakistani and Indian friends, where the guests included several ex-military officers including a retired army chief.
Pawar accused Modi of demeaning the Prime Minister’s office and of “bringing the Pakistan angle into the Gujarat elections as a diversionary tactic”.
Rahul highlighted how he had shown respect for the Prime Minister’s office by suspending Aiyar for his ” neech kism ka admi (vile sort of man)” jibe at Modi, and regretted Modi’s failure to show the same respect for his predecessor.
“I have made my stand clear from day one, in words and in action. Modiji is the Prime Minister of our country. Mani Shankar Aiyar said something and I made it clear that I would not tolerate it. You have seen the action,” he told a news conference in Ahmedabad on the final day of campaigning.
“But what Modiji has said about former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is not acceptable. Manmohan Singhji was also the Prime Minister of this country; he served and made sacrifices for this country.”
Rahul had also demanded that Aiyar issue an apology, which he did, but finance minister Arun Jaitley had on Monday rejected Singh’s call for Modi to “apologise to the nation” for his “falsehood and canards”.
At an election rally on Tuesday, the Prime Minister again portrayed himself as the victim and typically equated any attack on him with an attack on Gujarat.
“The lies that our worthy opponents have spread — about Gujarat, Gujarat’s growth and about me personally — are something I had never imagined,” he said.
“It’s natural for every Gujarati to feel hurt. The people of Gujarat will give a fitting reply to the negativity and lies of the Opposition.”
Modi had earlier projected Aiyar’s barb as a slur on his caste origins and home state, and days later alleged that a purported Congress politician had questioned his parentage.
“Narendra Modiji is my political opponent. He speaks many wrong things about me,” Rahul said. “But as he is the Prime Minister of the country, not a single bad word will come out of my mouth for him.”