TT Epaper
The Telegraph
 
CIMA Gallary

Salman defends Modi barb

New Delhi, Feb. 26: External affairs minister Salman Khurshid has defended his description of BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi as “impotent”, arguing that he was referring to his “incompetence” as chief minister for failing to control the riots in Gujarat in 2002.

“I am not his doctor. I cannot physically examine him. So I have no business to be saying what his physical condition is. The word ‘impotent’ is used in political vocabulary to show that somebody is incapable of doing something, that somebody is incompetent, not having the strength to do what he is supposed to do. But if I said Modi was incompetent, that is not strong enough,” Khurshid said today.

The minister, who had used the Hindi word “napunsak” while speaking in his constituency Farrukhabad, denied that he had crossed the line of decency.

The Congress, which usually doesn’t approve of personal remarks, was silent. Many senior leaders and ordinary workers do not believe Khurshid had made a mistake. On the contrary, many party leaders pointed to how Modi ceaselessly mocks the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi despite the aspiration to hold the high office of Prime Minister.

Without naming Modi, Khurshid had said: “You claim to be such a strong and powerful man and wish to be the PM, and you could not protect the people of Godhra... Are you not a strong man? Our allegation is not that you got people killed, but that you are napunsak (impotent).”

Responding to intense media questioning today, the senior spokesperson of the Congress said: “What should I say, that he is potent, that he is good? If so many people were in misery because of his incompetence, what can I say of him?”

Modi should either accept that he was “strong and fully capable” and had engineered the riots or that he was incapable of stopping them, the minister stressed.

Asked if it was not an indecent expression that he used, Khurshid said: “You give me a better word, what do I say, tell me? He should say he was strong enough but didn’t control the riots deliberately or admit he was not strong and failed to do what was expected of him. That’s what I said.”

Known for his sophistication and intellect, the minister has the tendency to cut loose when he is among the masses. But his strong defence through the day indicated be believes Modi has to be confronted boldly as he seeks to brush aside 2002 and present a moderate face.

The use of the word “napunsak” may have caused some degree of unease within the party because the expression has a sexual connotation but Modi is going to face a sustained attack from senior leaders as the election gets closer.