Congress today accused Narendra Modi of being "anti-national" by projecting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in "poor light" over the 'village woman' row and demanded that he apologise to the nation.
Strongly condemning Modi for the remarks, Congress said it does not behove of a Prime Ministerial candidate of an opposition party to use such language against the Prime Minister.
"It is anti-national and needs to be strongly condemned. He needs to apologise to the nation for what he said today that puts Prime Minister in poor light," Ajay Maken, head of the Congress media department, told reporters here.
Maken said Modi while addressing a rally went by the views of a Pakistani journalist who claimed that Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has termed Singh as a "village woman" for complaining against him before US President Barack Obama.
He said, "It does not behave of a Prime Ministerial candidate of the opposition party to speak against the Prime Minister" in this manner.
"Modi, who claims to be a nationalist, does not believe in the Indian journalists and spreads a false story of a Pakistani journalist before the whole nation," he said, adding "Modi has put forth Pakistan's views before the nation".
Maken said it is "very sad that Modi chose a time to show the Prime Minister in poor light when he is abroad and has insulted him by doing so."
Another Congress leader Congress leader Rashid Alvi dismissed Modi's charge that Rahul Gandhi had undermined the Prime Minister's authority by attacking the ordinance on lawmakers and alleged that the Gujarat CM was "misguiding" the country while "ignoring" his state which is facing a flood threat.
"Rahul Gandhi had not even mentioned the name of the Prime Minister. He had only expressed his views regarding the ordinance. He did not even ask the government to withdraw it," Alvi said, alleging that it was Modi who was "denigrating" the Prime Minister.
"Look at the content and tone in which he spoke. I think it is utterly despicable," said another party leader Sandeep Dikshit.
Maken also questioned Modi for coming out with his views on convicted lawmakers and attacked him for the "dream team" he was talking about.
The Congress leader also lashed out at BJP for spending huge amounts on the rally and questioned who had funded it. "The way so much money was spent on holding the rally, where is the money coming from...Or whether it is coming from abroad."
"We thought Modi will also give his views on whether convicts should be in legislatures. We expected that he will speak on this. Maybe he chose not to speak as Modi has a Cabinet Minister Babu Bokhariya who is a convicted legislator. That is why Modi does not want a Lokayukta in Gujarat since 2002," said Maken and described his 'dream team' comment as "laughable".
Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh also hit out at Modi saying, "We have seen his dream team which consists of Amit Shah, who is on bail for inciting violence, Maya Kodnani, who is in Jaij, Vanzara and 30 other policemen who are now facing charges of false encounters and Nitin Gadkari who set up fake companies to siphon off funds."
Singh described as a "Feku act", Modi talking about Nawaz Sharif's comments and said, "he never mentioned so."
Alvi alleged that it was Modi who was "denigrating" the Prime Minister with his remarks here at a time when he is in New York meeting various heads of state. He also accused Gujarat Chief Minister of "ignoring" his own people.
"People of Gujarat need Modi there. It is unfortunate that he is ignoring his own people who elected him as Chief Minister and is in Delhi, misguiding the nation," Alvi said.
Dikshit said, "Today in his speech he wants to score brownie points for trying to appear statesman-like, but we should never criticise our Prime Minister."
Countering Modi for his "Gandhi-bhakti' remark, Maken said, "Why is he silent on RSS-bhakti in BJP and Modi-bhakti."
Earlier in the day, in a scathing attack on Gandhi, the BJP's PM candidate accused him of undermining authority of the Prime Minister and asked people to decide if the nation will be run according to the Constitution or whims of the "prince".
Addressing a rally, his first in the capital after being named the Prime Ministerial candidate by BJP, Modi alleged, "The pride of the Prime Minister has been brought down by his own party. Congress party Vice President has committed the sin of disrespecting the Prime Minister."
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