New Delhi, Jan. 3: Manmohan Singh did not “add dignity” to the office of the Prime Minister with his attack on Narendra Modi at today’s news conference, the BJP said.
Addressing reporters shortly after Singh’s media interaction, Rajya Sabha Opposition leader Arun Jaitley defended the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate against Singh’s criticism and warned the Congress this was another “maut ka saudagar” moment for it.
Jaitley was referring to Sonia Gandhi dubbing Modi a “merchant of death” — in an allusion to the anti-Muslim pogrom in 2002 — during the campaign for the 2007 Gujarat polls. Modi had used the remark to further polarise Hindu votes and sweep the election.
“When Sonia Gandhi used the phrase ‘maut ka saudagar’, it did not damage Modi,” Jaitley said.
He tried to stand on its head the Prime Minister’s argument that the corruption scandals that besieged his second tenure had originated during the term of UPA I, despite which the alliance was re-elected in 2009.
“The PM manufactured a new logic. It went like this — that electoral sanction to a corrupt government wipes out the allegations of corruption,” Jaitley said.
“Modi won three elections: in 2002, 2007 and 2012. The PM’s own logic should, therefore, benefit Modi. But Modi did not clear himself just by winning polls.”
Jaitley added: “From 1947 till today, no other political leader has been subject to so much scrutiny. The police, the Supreme Court, the special investigation team, courts of inquiry… an amicus curiae. So it (the probe into Modi’s alleged complicity in the 2002 violence) was a monitored process by the highest court.
“Modi has been vindicated through a judicial process, besides the elections thrice vindicating him. But all the probe that went into 2002 did not happen with 1984.”
The reference was to the killing of Sikhs in north India after Indira Gandhi’s assassination in October 1984.
Jaitley said that since this was to be Singh’s “farewell” news conference, he should have “introspected” instead of venting his “bitterness”.
“But he sounded bitter with the media; more bitter with the Opposition; and very, very bitter with Modi.”
The BJP leader reminded Singh that if the Congress’s 2009 victory “exonerated” him from corruption charges, the verdict of the four recent Assembly polls in which the Congress was routed “puts a complete stamp of failure on the performance of his government”.
“But he has a different yardstick for measuring the outcomes of 2009 and 2013,” Jaitley said.
Plucking a phrase — “time will tell” — that frequently figured in Singh’s replies to reporters today, Jaitley said: “In a democracy, time does not tell. It is the voters who tell us most emphatically, and from what the voters told us recently and are likely to tell us, there is bad news for the Congress — and primarily because of its failures.”