Jaitley says PM Modi always held Manmohan Singh in 'high esteem'. Well, not really

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley clarified in Rajya Sabha that PM Modi never questioned the integrity of Manmohan Singh or Hamid Ansari.

Politicians indulging in name calling with their opponents is an everyday affair in Indian politics. And so is disowning their controversial statements whenever they spark outrage.

So after all the furore over Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Pakistan conspiracy’ statements against his predecessor Manmohan Singh, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is now doing the damage control. During the ongoing Rajya Sabha session on December 27, the leader of the house said that PM Modi never questioned the commitment of Manmohan Singh or ex-Vice President Hamid Ansari.

Arun Jaitley, a file photo

Modi holds Manmohan in high esteem”

“Any such perception [that PM Modi’s speech questioned Singh’s commitment to India] is erroneous, we hold these leaders in high esteem, as well as their commitment to India,” Jaitley said. His statement came as a response to Congress after the latter demanded Modi’s apology for his statements against Manmohan Singh.

Surprisingly, Congress which had created a hue and cry over ‘Pakistan conspiracy’ comments and had been disrupting Parliament seemed satisfied with Jaitley’s explanation.  The leader of the opposition in Rajya Sabha Gulam Nabi Azad said that his party is ready for a truce and distanced himself from any offensive remarks from his own party men (read Mani Shankar Aiyar calling Modi ‘neech’).

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during the AT HOME function at Rashtrapati Bhawan on 9 th Aug. 2017. Express photo by Renuka Puri.

However, a close look at the PM Modi’s statements counters Jaitley’s explanation.

Pakistan conspiracy

Here is what he had exactly said about ex-Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during the campaigning for Gujarat elections:

“Across the media yesterday there was a discussion…that at Mani Shankar Aiyar’s house…Pakistan’s high commissioner, Pakistan’s former foreign minister, India’s former vice president, and India’s former Prime Minister…Manmohan Singh…they had a meeting at Mani Shankar’s house. The meeting lasted three hours. And the next day, this Mani Shankar called Modi ‘neech”/”low-level’…

It is a serious matter… that Pakistan … it’s a sensitive issue… at that time what is the reason to have such a secret meeting with the Pakistan high commissioner? And while elections are on in Gujarat, what is the reason for this type of secret meeting?”…

“The second matter, Pakistan’s former Director General of Army, Arshad Rafiq, he says this, that to make Ahmed Patel Gujarat’s chief minister, we should do a contract. That Pakistan’s retired army chief should interfere in Gujarat’s election, that a meeting of Pakistani people should be held at Mani Shankar’s place, and the day after the meeting Gujarat is insulted… Modi is insulted… All these matters raise questions, do they not; they cause concern, do they not?”

His statements left both the party as well as the government embarrassed as Modi offered no proof to substantiate his claims.

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“Only he knows the art of bathing in a bathroom with a raincoat on”

This isn’t the only instance as he has traded barbs against Manmohan Singh on other occasions. In February, when Singh had called demonetisation an ‘organised loot’, Modi attacked him by saying that he “only knows the art of bathing in a bathroom with a raincoat on”.