Under attack for his remarks at a meeting of the Congress's Rajya Sabha MPs, party leader Rajeev Satav on Saturday said the "malicious attempt" to draw former prime minister Manmohan Singh into the "introspection debate" is "reprehensible".
After several party veterans attacked him for his comments on introspection on the party's governance during the UPA era, the Maharashtra leader and MP said he never sought to question Singh's leadership.
"The malicious attempt to draw Dr Manmohan Singh into this exchange is reprehensible," Satav tweeted. "To say my observations cast a shadow over Dr Singh's leadership of UPA II is a lie, a total misrepresentation of facts. I hold Dr Singh in high esteem. He is above reproach."
The Gujarat in-charge of the Congress said Singh had made commendable contributions towards building a modern India and will always be held in high regard.
"I will discuss my comments, or those made by any other esteemed colleagues, on internal party forums only," he said.
Satav alleged that some "motivated" media reports had twisted facts.
"Today, few of my esteemed colleagues and seniors have reacted on social media," he said. "This has compelled me, much against my principle of not discussing party matters on public platforms, to come out and clear the air."
Satav also described the meeting of the Congress's Rajya Sabha MPs with party president Sonia Gandhi as "extremely fruitful", where the participants could voice their views freely.
"These, though, are internal to the party and I have never been comfortable discussing what goes on inside, outside," he said.
"UPA II was a good government, people's government. The success of UPA II is reinforced when we compare it to the sharp slide under Modi.
"Elections are on the anvil in Bihar and Assam. BJP's misdeeds have piled up. We need to jointly stand together under the leadership of Soniaji, Dr Singhji, Rahul Ji," the leader from Maharashtra said.
Earlier, several former Union ministers hit out indirectly at him for his comments and asked party members not to discredit their own legacy and said by doing so, they would only be aiding the BJP's "design" to undermine the party in the public eye.