Mr Gandhi, 47, has been elected unopposed as Congress chief and will formally take over from his mother Sonia Gandhi in Delhi on Saturday. He was addressing a press conference today in Ahmedabad as campaigning ends in the Gujarat assembly elections, his first after the Congress announced yesterday that he has been elected unopposed to the party's top post.
Rahul Gandhi said he had immediately suspended Mani Shankar Aiyar, a senior leader of his party, for "unacceptable words" he used against the PM Modi last week. "I have made it clear I will not tolerate such things, PM Modi is after all the Prime Minister," Mr Gandhi said, also adding, "though what PM Modi said about Manmohan Singh is also not acceptable."
Dr Singh, he said, is a former Prime Minister too and has "selflessly served India."
BJP's Ravi Shankar Prasad immediately asked if Dr Singh consulted anyone before going to meet a Pakistani delegation. "In the light of the terror threats from Pakistan, violence in Jammu and Kashmir, did Manmohan Singh consult anyone before the meet... and with due information of Rahul Gandhi," Mr Prasad asked in a press conference.
It has escalated into a war of words with Dr Manmohan Singh saying, in an usually sharp response, "Fearing imminent defeat in Gujarat, desperation of Prime Minister to hurl every abuse and latch on to every straw is palpable. PM Modi is setting a dangerous precedent by his insatiable desire to tarnish every constitutional office." He asked the PM to apologise to the nation.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley shot back that saying the dinner party was a "misadventure," and that it was surprising the Congress has sought the PM's apology when it was they who "did not follow the national line on Pakistan."
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