Former prime minister Manmohan Singh on Monday expressed anguish at the “falsehood” and “canards” being spread by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to “score political points”. In a statement, the former PM said “Modi is setting a dangerous precedent by his insatiable desire to tarnish every constitutional office, including that of a former Prime Minister and Army Chief”.
The former two-term PM was referring to Prime Minister Modi’s remarks at an election rally in Gujarat on Sunday, where he referred to a purported tweet by a former Pakistan army director general, who said Ahmed Patel, the political secretary to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, should be made the chief minister of Gujarat. “Why is Pakistan’s senior retired army officer exercising his brain in the Gujarat election?” Modi had questioned. The Prime Minister went on to say that it was a “serious and sensitive issue” that a “secret meeting” was hosted by suspended Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar during the Pakistan’s former foreign affairs minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri visit to India.
“I reject the innuendos and falsehoods as I did not discuss Gujarat elections with anyone else at the dinner hosted by Mani Shankar Aiyar as alleged by Modi. Nor was the Gujarat issue raised by anyone else present at the dinner. The discussion was confined to India-Pakistan relations. Names of the distinguished Indian public servants and journalists present at the dinner are enclosed to this statement. None of them could be accused of indulging in any anti-national activities,” Singh said, adding that PM Modi should apologise to the nation for his ‘ill thought transgression to restore the dignity of the office he occupies’.
“Pakistan’s High Commissioner, former foreign minister, India’s former vice-president and India’s former prime minister Manmohan Singh all met at Aiyar’s house, held a meeting for three hours, and then the next day, Mani Shankar calls Modi ‘neech.’ This is a serious and sensitive issue, being a meeting with the Pakistan High Commissioner. Also, what is the reason for such a secret meeting amidst Gujarat elections?” Modi had said.
As reported in today’s edition of The Indian Express, the dinner meeting was held on December 6 at Aiyar’s residence in Delhi during the visit of former Pakistan minister Kasuri to India. The following day, Kasuri was present at a talk hosted by Ananta Centre, a Delhi-based think-tank, titled, ‘The Current State of India-Pakistan Relations’.
Sources told The Indian Express that Manmohan Singh was invited for the discussions that preceded the dinner, but he agreed to simply attend the dinner.