Prime Minister Narendra Modi's remarks on how there was a time when people felt a sense of shame at being born in India have triggered a fierce debate on social media over whether he had insulted India abroad or simply spoken the bitter truth. Now, the government has hit back at the Congress' criticism of PM Modi's remarks. Speaking to NDTV on The TownHall, Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had a question for the Congress. "Did you forget about India's image abroad when the United States of America denied Narendra Modi a visa? Did you protest even once? Did you stand up even once for an elected Chief Minister of India?" she asked Congress leader and former minister Sachin Pilot who was debating her on the same programme.
Mr Pilot argued, "It's unbecoming of the Prime Minister to carry domestic politics to foreign soils. When he travels abroad, he is my Prime Minister too, isn't he?".
"He can say what he wants to in Patna or Delhi, no problem," Mr Pilot said, adding that outside India, no one should present the image of the country as "a fractured nation".
Ms Sitharaman accused the Congress of doublespeak and hypocrisy. "When 63 MPs, yours among them wrote to US senators to block Modi's visa, where was your worry for India's image abroad?"
When Mr Pilot retorted that PM Modi should direct his question on visas to US President Barack Obama and asked "Why do you want to be his best friend now?", Ms Sitharaman said, "Very lame, very lame response, expected better from Sachin."