Wading into the controversy, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Monday said instead of seeking an apology from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Congress and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh should apologise for “violating” the national policy on terrorism and make public the details of what transpired at the dinner meeting at Mani Shankar Aiyar’s house.
Responding to a sharp attack by Singh on Modi, Jaitley said when there is a national position that there can be no dialogue with Pakistan till it keeps sponsoring terrorism in India, being the principal opposition party, the Congress should have abided by it.
“But people in Congress like Mani Shankar Aiyar never abide by this national position. Their position is that let Pakistan sponsor terrorism in our country but we will maintain our friendship with it,” he told the media here calling the dinner diplomacy a “misadventure” like the one that took place in Sharm-al-Sheikh, Egypt.
The Finance Minister said the nation had never accepted the policy being advocated by people like Aiyar.
“Instead of admitting that their misadventure was a mistake, the Congress is instead asking for an apology from the Prime Minister for flagging the issue. This is beyond comprehension.
“It is them (Congress leaders) who should apologise for violating the national policy on Pakistan-sponsored terrorism and explain what was the need for the meeting, why it happened and what transpired during the meeting,” he said.
Jaitley’s remarks came after Manmohan Singh issued a statement accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi of spreading “falsehood and canards” in a desperate bid to win the Gujarat elections and asked him to “apologize to the nation”.
At an election rally in Gujarat, Modi had alleged that guests at Aiyar’s house, including Manmohan Singh and former Vice President Hamid Ansari, discussed the Gujarat election with Pakistan’s High Commissioner to India and a former Pakistani Foreign Minister among others.
On former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s questioning the “compromised track record” of the Modi-led government on fighting terrorism, Jaitley said no government in the past had the track record of countering terrorism like the current BJP government.