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Manmohan Tears into PM Modi for Alleging Cong-Pak Collusion, Jaitley Hits Back

Arun Jailtey ruled out any apology from the PM Narendra Modi, and instead, accused Manmohan Singh and other Congress leaders of violating national policy by holding a parallel dialogue with Pakistan.

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Updated:December 11, 2017, 10:14 PM IST
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Manmohan Tears into PM Modi for Alleging Cong-Pak Collusion, Jaitley Hits Back
Launching a sharp counteroffensive, Singh attacked Modi over what he called the prime minister's "ill-thought transgression" and rejected his charge as "innuendos and falsehoods".(File photo)
New Delhi: Finance minister Arun Jaitley on Monday lashed out at former Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and demanded to know the context of his meeting with Pakistani diplomats, hours after he demanded an apology from his successor Narendra Modi for accusing the Congress of colluding with the neighbouring country to fix the Gujarat election.

Jailtey ruled out any apology from the PM, and instead, accused Singh and other Congress leaders of violating national policy by holding a parallel dialogue with Pakistan. He asked the necessity of attending a dinner hosted by Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar at his home here last week that was attended by Pakistani diplomats, among others.

The finance minister’s remarks came after a rare row between a sitting and a former premier broke out, with Manmohan Singh accusing his Modi of setting a "dangerous precedent by his insatiable desire to tarnish every constitutional office, including that of the former Prime Minister and Army Chief”.

Launching a sharp counteroffensive, Singh attacked Modi over what he called the prime minister's "ill-thought transgression" and rejected his charge as "innuendos and falsehoods".

In uncharacteristically strong words, the usually mild mannered Singh crossed swords with the BJP and said that the desperation of the PM was evident as he has to latch on to every straw. He clarified that Gujarat polls were never raised by anyone present at the dinner and that the discussion was confined to India-Pakistan ties.

Terming the meeting as "political misadventure", Jaitley said the opposition party is expected to follow the national police that terror and talks cannot go hand-in-hand. He stated if anyone defies the national line, he should be prepared to answer questions. "It is a political misadventure, it has a political cost," he said.

Addressing an election rally in Palanpur in Gujarat on Sunday, Modi had accused Pakistan of trying to influence the assembly polls in the state. He claimed that some Pakistani officials and Manmohan Singh met at Aiyar's house over dinner on December 6. This was a day before Aiyar's "neech" jibe against Modi that led to his suspension from the party.

Singh issued a statement on Monday, listing those who attended the dinner hosted in honour of former Pakistan foreign minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri.

He said besides himself and former vice president Hamid Ansari, others present at the dinner were the Pakistan High Commissioner, Natwar Singh, K S Bajpai, Ajai Shukla, Sharad Sabharwal, Gen Deepak Kapoor, TCA Raghavan, Satinder K Lambah, M K Bhadrakumar, CR Gharekhan, Prem Shankar Jha, Salman Haider and Rahul Khushwant Singh.

"None of them could be accused of indulging in any anti- national activities," he said.

Lambah, a former diplomat, was quoted as having said he does not comment on private dinners. He, however, said there was just a general discussion on Indo-Pak relations.

Gharekhan, another former diplomat said, said the invitees were talking about the relations between India and Pakistan.

"But nobody, if I recall....I am hundred per cent sure that, not a single person, talked about Gujarat elections or anything about the present situation... Or for that matter, the present situation in Pakistan," he said.

"It was only about India-Pakistan relation. We didn't talk about any kind of politics."

Gen. Kapoor, a former Army Chief, was quoted as having said that Gujarat elections were never discussed at the dinner meeting.

Manmohan Singh said he did not discuss the Gujarat Assembly elections with anyone at the dinner meeting. "I sincerely hope that Prime Minister will show the maturity and gravitas expected of the high office he holds instead of concentrating his energy solely on erroneously conceived brownie points.

Singh said he was "deeply pained and anguished" by the "falsehood and canards" being spread to score political points by the prime minister in what he said was a "lost cause" in Gujarat.

"Fearing imminent defeat in Gujarat, desperation of Prime Minister to hurl every abuse and latch on to every straw is palpable. Sadly and regrettably, Sh. Modi is setting a dangerous precedent by his insatiable desire to tarnish every constitutional office, including that of a former Prime Minister and Army Chief," he alleged.

The Congress Party, Singh said, needs no sermons on "nationalism" from a party and prime minister, whose "compromised" track record on fighting terrorism is well known, while reminding Modi of his "uninvited" visit to Pakistan after terrorist attacks in Udhampur and Gurdaspur.

"Let him also tell the country the reason for inviting the infamous ISI of Pakistan to our strategic Air Base in Pathankot to investigate a terror attack that emanated from Pakistan," he said.

(With PTI inputs)

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