The Congress on Monday accused the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, of making “negative” speeches that were “vitiating the atmosphere” and making it conducive for acts of violence.

“The general election is still five months away, but the BJP’s prime ministerial aspirant is creating an atmosphere of suspicion and hatred … [He] has created a negative environment that has disturbed the country’s peaceful atmosphere,” Congress spokesperson P.C. Chacko said, a day after serial explosions ripped through Patna, killing six persons and injuring over 90 others, minutes before Mr. Modi was to address a rally.

Condemning all acts of political violence, Mr. Chacko said the Congress had been one of its worst victims. He referred to the “merciless decimation” of a host of party leaders in Chhattisgarh by Maoists earlier this year.

“Communal polarisation is the pet card of the BJP,” Mr. Chacko said, adding: “The party recently also raked up the Ayodhya issue. When the atmosphere gets vitiated, certain forces get the opportunity to operate.” Asked whether he was hinting at the possibility of a political conspiracy behind the serial explosions in Patna, Mr. Chacko, however said: “Jumping to conclusions won’t help the situation.”

While Mr Chacko, in his official briefing as party spokesperson, was guarded in his speech, not even mentioning Mr. Modi by name, some other Congress leaders were not quite so measured.

Rajya Sabha MP Satyavrat Chauturvedi went so far as to link the RSS with the bomb explosions in Patna, while party general secretary Digvijaya Singh said the BJP stands to gain the most from the Patna episode even as he held the Nitish Kumar government responsible for serious security lapses. “The bomb blasts in Patna,” he said, “would benefit the BJP in the coming elections.”

On Sunday, Mr. Singh had tweeted: “Another blast in Patna. Perfect setting for Modi's launch in Bihar.” After the BJP accused him of “playing politics,” he tweeted: “I strongly condemn the blasts. I did not politicise it. It is unfortunate that I have been misunderstood every time. I don’t regret my tweets on Patna blasts.”

Asked why Mr. Chacko did not mention Mr. Modi by name, a Congress functionary explained to The Hindu that the party, as a matter of strategy, wanted to minimise the number of times it took his name. “Almost every day, Mr. Modi makes a speech and TV journalists pose questions to us on what he has said. If we respond to this everyday, it will make him the centre of the elections — and we want to avoid that,” he said.

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