Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said he was "deeply pained and anguished" by the "falsehood and canards being spread to score political points by none less than Prime Minister Narendra Modi", as an unprecedented war of words exploded today between a Prime Minister and his predecessor in the backdrop of the bitterly-contested Gujarat election.
In an unusually combative response to PM Modi's charge that Congress leaders had discussed the Gujarat election with Pakistani guests at a recent dinner hosted by suspended Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar, Manmohan Singh called for the Prime Minister's apology and said: "I sincerely hope that Prime Minister will show the maturity and gravitas expected of the high office he holds instead of concentrating his energy solely on erroneously conceived brownie points."
Dr Singh, former Vice President Hamid Ansari and former Army Chief Deepak Kapoor were among the guests at a dinner on Wednesday that also featured the Pakistan envoy, a former Pakistan minister, an ex-Pakistan army officer, former Indian diplomats and journalists. Dr Singh is the fourth guest from that dinner to stress that discussions revolved around India-Pak ties, not domestic politics or Gujarat polls.
"Sadly and regrettably, Mr 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 PM said in his statement.
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