Hitting out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his remarks that his predecessor Manmohan Singh looks at 'Bharat Mata Ki Jai' with suspicion, the Congress on Tuesday said an "auspicious slogan" like that should not be drawn into "crass" and "cheap" political debate.
Addressing the BJP parliamentary party meeting, Modi took a dig at Singh, saying the former prime minister finds a "bad smell" even in a slogan like 'Bharat Mata Ki Jai' and looks at it with suspicion.
At a recent event, Singh had said the slogan of 'Bharat Mata Ki Jai' was being misused to construct a "militant and purely emotional" idea of India that excludes millions of residents and citizens.
Slamming Modi over his dig at Singh, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said the prime minister in his usual coded language appears to be trying to "pour more trouble, more oil on troubled waters".
"An auspicious slogan like 'Bharat Mata Ki Jai' should not be drawn into crass, cheap political debate by addressing internal party meeting," Singhvi said.
"On the one hand, you are talking of 'Bharat Mata Ki Jai' slogan and distorting it in a coded language in your party meeting. On the other hand, those who are victims of riots, under your nose, they are being chained and those who are perpetrators are getting security," he said.
Earlier, Congress' senior spokesperson Anand Sharma also hit out at Prime Minister Modi over his dig at Singh.
Sharma said it was "unfortunate" that Modi did not take Singh's remarks in the right spirit.
"Instead of being sarcastic, he should understand that Manmohan Singh is known for his humility and wisdom. Bharat Mata belongs to all those who live in this country. The slogan 'Bharat Mata Ki Jai' or the tricolour have to be held in high respect and not to be used for polarisation, division and violence," he told reporters outside Parliament.