New Delhi, May 8: The Congress today condemned Narendra Modi’s demonstration in Varanasi against the Election Commission, describing it as “tragic” for democracy and an indication of his true character.
“If a prime ministerial candidate makes such statements, I don’t think it diminishes the authority of the Election Commission. It reveals the character of the person making the allegations,” finance minister P. Chidambaram said.
Asked if what happened in Varanasi was a war, not electioneering, he said: “It is a sign of desperation.”
Salman Khurshid, the external affairs minister, was more strident, saying it was “reprehensible” and “pathetic” to see words like “fraud” being used against the commission and Modi questioning its motives.
“We can have differences with the EC (the Election Commission) but we can’t attack and insult it. What is happening is very tragic. The BJP will respect institutions only if they act according to its convenience. Objectivity and rationality cannot be expected from the BJP.”
Khurshid said for the BJP, the CBI became “Congress Bureau of Investigation” when it acted against a misdeed, and a good, independent body if it gave a clean chit to Amit Shah. The agency had said yesterday there was no proof against the Modi aide in the Ishrat Jahan case.
Asked about the BJP charge that the panel was soft on Rahul Gandhi, Khurshid said: “It is for the officials in Amethi to decide. Interfering in the electoral process and taking a look to find out (if) everything is OK are different. The BJP should brush up its legal knowledge as it is asking for an FIR against Rahul.”
Khurshid claimed that today’s “tamasha (drama)” in Varanasi was planned because of negative feedback from different parts of Uttar Pradesh and the fear that Modi himself would lose in the temple town.
Khurshid referred to Modi’s earlier comment, that the call of the Ganges had brought him to Varanasi, to question the BJP mascot’s motives. “The BJP says it won’t do aarti because it didn’t get time to mobilise people. We have heard for the first time that crowds are required to perform aarti.”