On yet another day of vitriolic campaigning for the Assembly polls in Gujarat, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday suggested that Pakistan was trying to influence the outcome of the elections.
Mr. Modi accused his predecessor Dr. Manmohan Singh of meeting Pakistani officials at a “secret” meeting at Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar’s residence a day before the latter’s controversial remark, terming the Prime Minister ‘ neech’ [a lowly person].” “There were media reports about a meeting at Mani Shankar Aiyar’s house in which Pakistan’s High Commissioner, Pakistan’s former Foreign Minister, India’s former Vice-President and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh were present,” Mr. Modi said at an election rally at Palanpur in north Gujarat, scheduled to vote in the second phase on December 14.
Baseless, says Congress
Terming the allegations of its senior leaders’ meeting with Pakistani officials as baseless, the Congress said Mr. Modi’s charges were prompted by his worry about the BJP’s impending defeat in Gujarat.
“Holding the country’s topmost post, Modiji is making baseless allegations. Modiji is worried, dejected, angry. Such a statement has no truth or fact, and is based on lies. Such behaviour is unbecoming of a Prime Minister,” Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala told reporters in New Delhi.
Mr. Surjewala said if Mr. Modi planned to contest the elections on Pakistan-related issues, then he should also tell the people of Gujarat why he “trusted the Pakistani spy agency ISI and offered it entry to Pathankot Airforce Base...”
He also questioned the Prime Minister’s “unplanned” Pakistan visit to attend the wedding of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s granddaughter, soon after “Pakistan-sponsored terrorist attacks at Gurdaspur and Udhampur”.
In his speech, Mr. Modi claimed that the meeting at Mr. Aiyar’s house continued for almost three hours and next day, Mr Aiyer called the Prime Minister “ neech ”.
Hints at link
“On one hand, Pakistan Army’s former DG is interfering in Gujarat’s election, on the other, Pakistani people are holding a secret meeting at Mani Shankar Aiyar’s house and immediately after the meeting, people of Gujarat, backward communities, poor people and Modi were insulted. Don’t you think such events raise doubts here,” he said, suggesting that the Congress leader’s statement came after his meeting with Pakistan envoy and others.
Mr Modi also raised questions about the alleged appeal by former director general (DG) of the Pakistan Army Sardar Arshad Rafiq for making senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel the chief minister of Gujarat.
Congress veteran Ahmed Patel, however, dismissed the PM’s allegation and said he had PM abdicated the politics of development to win the Assembly polls in Gujarat.
“It’s a foregone conclusion that he has abdicated the politics of development in both action and words. But does it befit the stature of the Prime Minister to rely on canards, rumours & lies just for an election? This is very sad,” Mr Patel tweeted.
In a concerted move, soon after the PM’s election speech, BJP President Amit Shah told the media in Gandhinagar that the former vice-president Hamid Ansari had been present at the alleged meeting with Pakistani officials. Mr Shah also alleged that the opposition party did not inform the External Affairs Ministry of the meeting.