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Modi and Congress in Pranab battle

New Delhi, Feb. 5: The Congress highlighted Narendra Modi’s “disrespect for elders” in the BJP to counter his statements in Calcutta today that Pranab Mukherjee should have been the Prime Minister and that the Nehru-Gandhi family had not allowed him to take up the post.

Hours after the BJP prime ministerial candidate’s maiden Brigade rally, where he referred to President Mukherjee as “Pranab dada” and underlined how he thought the Bengal veteran had been deprived, Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said in Delhi: “Modi should look within instead of lecturing us and try to mend his conduct. He has the habit of insulting people, making fun of everybody and showing disrespect to elders.

“The country knows how he humiliated veteran leader Keshubhai Patel and hounded him out of the BJP. He didn’t even spare his guru and the BJP’s tallest leader, L.K. Advani. Such ill-will and disrespect Advani was shown that he resigned from all posts in the BJP.”

Advani had taken the step a day after the BJP anointed Modi as the spearhead of its campaign for the Lok Sabha elections. Advani had rejoined the posts within 48 hours.

At today’s rally in Brigade, Modi said: “In 1984, after Indiraji’s death, the senior-most minister was Pranab dada. It would have been good had he been made the Prime Minister. This family thought something is on. Rajivji did not even include him in the cabinet. Don’t forget this. In 2004, if Soniaji had indeed not wanted to become the Prime Minister, Pranab dada should have been given the post.”

Pointing out that there were several other “victims” of Modi’s conduct in the BJP, such as Sanjay Joshi and Haren Pandya, Surjewala said: “Pranab Mukherjee was a highly respected leader and the Congress was greatly enriched by his political experience and administrative acumen.

“He held several key positions in the party, worked as senior ministers in several governments and now holds the highest office of the President of India.”