Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday alleged that some Congress leaders had visited Pakistan to seek help to oust Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, the Hindustan Times reported. Speaking at the Bharatiya Janata Party’s national convention in New Delhi, she said the Opposition had lost decency and public demeanour.

“The defence forces conducted surgical strikes across the border and instead of commending them, the opposition wanted proof,” Sitharaman said. “We showed them the proof. And it was the same Opposition – some leaders of the Congress – who went to Pakistan to seek help to remove Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government. A big shame on our Opposition that they went to Pakistan and said, ‘please help us to remove them’. This is the kind of politics that the Congress plays.”

She did not give further details about the alleged meeting. This was similar to an allegation made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in December 2017, when he claimed Pakistan was helping the Congress in the Gujarat Assembly elections.

Sitharaman on Saturday described an alliance formed by several Opposition parties, known as the “Mahagathbandan” or grand alliance, as comical. She referred to such collaborations as “desperate, contradictory and opportunistic a political formations”.

The minister also criticised the Opposition’s claims about irregularities committed by the Centre in the Rafale jet deal and said the previous Congress-led administration was mired in corruption. “That is why in a desperate attempt to put at least one blemish on the clean governance provided by Narendra Modi, the Congress party concocted the lies about Rafale [deal],” she said. “The falsehood propagated by the Congress party in this connection was also repudiated by the Government of France.”