The Congress on Monday demanded that Prime Minister Narendra Modi apologise to former Vice President Hamid Ansari and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for insinuating that they were colluding with Pakistan to defeat the BJP in the Gujarat elections.
Perceiving a "clear defeat" in Gujarat, the Prime Minister was "frustrated and using foul language" to rouse sympathy for himself, Congress leader Anand Sharma said in New Delhi, a day after Modi accused the party and elements in Pakistan of working together to defeat the BJP.
The Congress was reacting to Modi's charge in a public meeting on Sunday in Gujarat that Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar's "neech" remark came after a dinner at his house the previous day attended by former Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri, its current High Commissioner in India besides Ansari and Singh, among others.
"Today Prime Minister, in his frustration and perceiving a clear defeat, wants to divert the attention of people. PM should take his words back and to maintain the dignity of his post, should apologise.
"If he has any such information, then it's a very serious matter... The country will not accept wrong means being employed by the ruling party to win the elections. We have full faith that the Gujarat electorate is intelligent and mature enough to understand the tactics behind yesterday's address (by Modi) and will answer them in the second phase," Sharma told the media.
He said nothing could be more absurd than what the Prime Minister had said on Sunday.
"It is expected of the Prime Minister to be dignified in his discourse, to always remember that he holds a high office and he should not level accusations, cast aspersions on those who have held high constitutional offices and have served India with dedication and commitment."
Sharma said Modi's insinuations against the former Vice President of India and former Prime Minister of doing something improper is "highly irresponsible, improper and condemnable."
"The Prime Minister, he said, must remember that mere attending a social function in which high dignitaries were present... It was not a secret meeting, in which former Chief of the Indian Army, India former High Commissioner to Pakistan, eminent journalists, they all were present."
"The Prime Minister is giving it a sinister and sensational twist. The Prime Minister should restore the dignity of political discourse, and apologise to the former Vice President and former PM."
"It is clear that he has done so with the intent to confuse and mislead the people of Gujarat ... to whip up emotions and to polarise. There cannot be any other explanation and there cannot be anything more reprehensible than what he has done."
Referring to Modi's charge that Congress leaders were colluding with Pakistan, Sharma said, "It is outrageous. He should know that Congress led the freedom struggle in which the ancestors of the party that Modi belongs to had opposed the Indian freedom struggle. They had sided with the British and had opposed Mahatma Gandhi's Quit India Movement ... He is heir of such a group."
Sharma said that "Modi has time and again brought down the political discourse to such a low, which is anything but dignified".
"Why doesn't he talk about progress, the country's economy. He is the Prime Minister, is given to making tall claims, why doesn't he talk about farmers today? Why doesn't he talk about employment, the future of youth? What is their agenda, on what basis are they fighting the polls? " he asked.