Refusing to back down, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid repeated on Wednesday that he believed the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, was “politically” impotent as he had failed to prevent the Gujarat carnage in 2002. The BJP took strong exception to the Minister’s choice of words.

Slamming Mr. Khurshid, Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley accused Union Ministers of using “foul language” to grab “airtime.”

“Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde has an ever smiling face. He is a man known for his courteous behaviour. Surprisingly, he has chosen to threaten the electronic media, which he finds is no longer government-friendly,” Mr. Jaitley said in a statement. “External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid is normally pleasant and courteous. He is, however, a different man when he visits his constituency Farrukhabad.”

Congress leaders, Mr. Jaitley continued, are frustrated as their party now “faces public hostility” and the “day of reckoning” draws close.

BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain said Mr. Khurshid had forgotten both his “tehzeeb and tameez” (etiquette and manners), and that his language violated both Indian culture and ethos.

On his part, Mr. Khurshid said he saw nothing wrong in his description of Mr. Modi: “I am not his doctor. I cannot physically examine him. So I have no business saying what his physical condition is. The word impotent is used in political vocabulary to indicate that somebody is incapable of doing something.”

The Minister’s defence comes a day after he said in a speech in Farrukhabad: “We don’t accuse you (Modi) of killing people. Our accusation is that you are impotent. You couldn’t stop the killers.”

Mr. Khurshid said either Mr. Modi should say that he was “strong and fully capable and what had happened was done deliberately” or admit that he had made a lot of effort “but did not have the capability [to stop the riots].”

“If there is no capability [to deal with] what is it called? Is it not called impotency? If it is called impotency, then what’s the problem?” the Minister asked.

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