Senior Congress leader Manmohan Singh on Monday said Prime Minister Narendra Modi was spreading “falsehoods” to “score political points” by claiming that suspended party leader Mani Shankar Aiyar had held a secret meeting with Pakistani officials.
“I reject the innuendos and falsehoods as I did not discuss Gujarat elections with anyone else at the dinner hosted by Mani Shankar Aiyar as alleged by Modi,” Singh said. “Nor was the Gujarat issue raised by anyone else present at the dinner. The discussion was confined to India-Pakistan relations.”
Aiyar had hosted the dinner at his house in New Delhi on December 6, days before he was suspended from the Congress for calling Modi “neech”. He had later clarified that he meant low-level and was not implying caste.
Singh said Modi was “setting a dangerous precedent by his insatiable desire to tarnish every constitutional office, including that of a former prime minister and Army chief”.
At an election rally on Sunday, Modi had alleged that Pakistan was helping the Congress in the Gujarat polls and questioned “the reason for this secret meeting with Pakistanis.” Singh said the Congress needed “no sermons on ‘nationalism’ from a party and prime minister”, and that the country knew his “track record of public service” over the past five decades.
Here’s the full text of his statement:
I am deeply pained and anguished by the falsehood and canards being spread to score political points in a lost cause by none less than Prime Minister, Sh. Narender Modi. Fearing imminent defeat in Gujarat, desperation of Prime Minister to hurl every abuse and latch on to every straw is palpable. Sadly & regrettably, Sh. Modi is setting a dangerous precedent by his insatiable desire to tarnish every constitutional office, including that of a Former Prime Minister and Army Chief.
The Congress Party needs no sermons on “Nationalism” from a party and Prime Minister, whose compromised track record on fighting terrorism is well known. Let me remind Sh. Narender Modi that he had gone to Pakistan uninvited after the terrorist attacks in Udhampur and Gurdaspur. Let him also tell the country the reason for inviting the infamous ISI of Pakistan to our strategic Air Base in Pathankot to investigate a terror attack that emanated from Pakistan.
My track record of public service to the country over last five decades is known to everyone. No one, including Sh. Modi, can lamely question it to gain lost political ground.
I reject the innuendos and falsehoods as I did not discuss Gujarat elections with anyone else at the dinner hosted by Shri Mani Shankar Aiyar as alleged by Shri Modi. Nor was the Gujarat issue raised by anyone else present at the dinner. The discussion was confined to India-Pakistan relations. Names of the distinguished Indian public servants and journalists present at the dinner are enclosed to this statement. None of them could be accused of indulging in any anti-national activities.
I sincerely hope that Prime Minister will show the maturity and gravitas expected of the high office he holds instead of concentrating his energy solely on erroneously conceived brownie points. I sincerely hope that he will apologize to the Nation for his ill thought transgression to restore the dignity of the office he occupies.
Discussion on India-Pakistan relations followed by dinner on December 6 attended by:
1 & 2. Mr and Mrs Mani Shankar Aiyar
3. Khurshid Kasuri
4. M Hamid Ansari
5. Dr Manmohan Singh
6. K Natwar Singh
7. KS Bajpai
8. Ajai Shukla
9. Sharad Sabharwal
10. General Deepak Kapoor
11. TCA Raghavan
12. Sati Lambah
13. Pakistan High Commissioner
14. MK Bhadrakumar
15. CR Gharekhan
16. Prem Shankar Jha
17. Salman Haider
18. Rahul Khushwant Singh