The Congress on Sunday took strong exception to the remarks made by Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi on the last day of the BJP’s national council meeting here, saying that he did not have the capability as yet to be a national leader.

Mr. Modi virtually set the agenda for the party, ahead of the 2014 general elections, by targeting the Congress and training his guns on the Nehru-Gandhi family and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, whom he described as a “night watchman.”

The Congress said Mr. Modi was mistaken if he thought that he could attain the stature of a national leader by spending funds of the State on “self-propaganda.” “The kind of language that Mr. Modi used does not behove any leader of national stature. I think he is not yet capable of attaining the stature of a national leader,” Union Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajiv Shukla said.

“A bundle of lies”

Mr. Modi, in his speech, said that though Pranab Mukherjee was more deserving, the Congress did not make him Prime Minister and chose Manmohan Singh.

To this, Mr. Shukla said: “His speech is a bundle of lies. Today he is expressing a liking for Pranab Mukherjee. If he had the courage of conviction, then why did he not support him [in last year’s presidential elections]. NDA partners Nitish Kumar and Shiv Sena had done so. At that time Pranab Mukherjee was not likeable, then you were praising P.A. Sangma. This is doublespeak.”

Congress spokesperson and MP Rashid Alvi said: “Dr. Singh is the Prime Minister of the country and not just of the Congress. His name should be taken with respect. His honour is the country’s honour.”

Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari said the then Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, had reminded the Gujarat CM of ‘raj dharma’ in the wake of the 2002 riots that had shaken the State.