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Congress refrains from CM mud fight

New Delhi, March 4: The Congress has decided to use Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s “stature” and Sonia Gandhi’s “sacrifice” as shields against Narendra Modi’s offensive instead of locking horns with him in a war of words.

Neither Sonia nor Rahul Gandhi has responded to the Gujarat chief minister’s attack on the Congress and the Nehru-Gandhis yesterday.

Other senior leaders too have avoided a verbal battle.

They also disapproved of Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar describing Modi as “a scorpion and a snake”. A Congress leader said: “Aiyar is not authorised to speak for the party.”

Modi had alleged that the Congress “sacrificed India’s interests for the family’s interests”, that the relatives of its leaders took “commissions”, and that Congress leaders who “sparkled were those who either worked out of the family’s shadow or left the party”.

Giving the party’s official response, spokesperson P.C. Chako said: “This is a typical BJP-style vilification campaign. Such stunts may give Modi a place in the BJP but the people of India will reject this kind of politics.”

Modi had yesterday alleged that Manmohan Singh was made the Prime Minister only because somebody more rooted, like Pranab Mukherjee, would have jeopardised the family’s political future.

Chako said: “Manmohan Singh is the most respected statesman in the world. He brought India out of a severe economic crisis in the ’90s and then turned the Indian economy into one of the strongest in the world.”

He added: “He (Modi) also attacked the family. Sonia Gandhi is the only leader who refused to become Prime Minister. Her sacrifice is known to all.”

The Congress had adopted the same strategy in 2009, when L.K. Advani attacked Manmohan and Sonia with the “weakest PM” and “super PM” tags, and returned with a bigger mandate.