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Rahul frowns on Khurshid barb

New Delhi, Feb. 27: Rahul Gandhi today disapproved of foreign minister Salman Khurshid’s napunsak (impotent) barb at Narendra Modi, saying “we don’t appreciate that language”.

“No we don’t appreciate that language,” Rahul said, responding to questions at the Congress headquarters where the party’s campaign committee met. Asked further whether he was referring to the BJP’s language, Rahul retorted: “No, Mr Khurshid.”

The Congress vice-president was also asked about a swipe by Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, but did not respond. Chouhan was reported to have said that Rahul and Modi were as different as mooch and poonchh (moustache and tail).

Sonia Gandhi was asked about Khurshid’s remarks too, but did not comment.

However, Congress leaders didn’t view Rahul’s response as a rebuff to Khurshid, arguing that he would not have approved of such words regardless of who uttered them.

A senior leader said: “Khurshid is an articulate person and he could have attacked Modi without using such expressions. Rahul will never encourage the use of such expressions.”

Khurshid’s cabinet colleague, information and broadcasting minister Manish Tewari, indicated that Congress leaders would continue to target Modi, but without being abusive.

The external affairs minister had yesterday defended his remarks, arguing that he was only trying to explain Modi’s administrative incapability in the context of the Gujarat riots of 2002. But his explanation didn’t pacify the BJP as Khurshid appeared to further rub the message in by reiterating that he couldn’t have known about Modi’s medical condition as he was not a doctor.

Congress ally NCP also criticised Khurshid, with spokesperson D.P. Tripathi saying “no civilised person would appreciate such expressions”. “We believe language in public discourse should be decent,” Tripathi said. But a few days ago, NCP boss Sharad Pawar had accused Modi of “mass murder”.