Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Monday continued the spat between the Bharatiya Janata Party and Congress by dismissing former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s demand that his successor, Narendra Modi, apologise for spreading “falsehoods”. Jaitley accused Singh and other Congress leaders of going against India’s national policy by meeting Pakistani delegates, The Hindu reported.
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.
Jaitley demanded that the Congress explain what transpired at the meeting. “It is surprising that for the misadventure that the Congress has indulged in, to which some of its senior leaders became a party, they should expect the Prime Minister to apologise,” Jaitley told the media in New Delhi’s North Block. “India’s position on talks with Pakistan is well known and the level at which it is to take place is also clear to everyone. India’s national position with regards to talks with Pakistan is that talks and terror do not go together.”
Jaitley said that this was not the first such “misadventure” by the Congress. He pointed to the Sharm-el-Sheikh joint statement in 2009 between India and Pakistan, in which Balochistan was mentioned, and it was said that terrorism was a threat to both countries. “It took us some time to get out of that statement,” Jaitley said.
“Therefore, the Congress and its leadership should come out with detailed facts as to what transpired in that meeting and what was it that necessitated this meeting,” the finance minister said. He claimed that the Congress had made a mistake by “agreeing to Mani Shankar Aiyar’s line” and was now using Manmohan Singh as a “shield”.