BJP rules out PM apology for targeting Manmohan
New Delhi: Ruling out an apology by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Monday charged former prime minister Manmohan Singh with defying the stated national policy on terror by meeting Pakistani diplomats and demanded to know the context, relevance and necessity of such a meet.
He termed the dinner meeting at suspended Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar's residence as "political misadventure" and said the main opposition party is expected to follow the national line that terror and talks cannot go hand in hand.
Addressing a press conference hours after Singh demanded an apology from Modi for setting a "dangerous precedent" by alleging "innuendos and falsehoods" about the meeting, Jaitley said the Congress must explain the context of the meeting.
"It is surprising that for a misadventure that the Congress party indulged in, to which some of its senior leaders became a party, they should expect the Prime Minister of India to apologise for it," he said.
India's national position on talks with Pakistan is well known and all responsible groups in India, including the main opposition party, are expected to honour that, Jaitley asserted.
Stating that this was not the first time that such "misadventures" have taken place, he referred to the Sharm el-Sheikh declaration after Indo-Pak talks "when Baluchistan issue was allowed to enter the text of the agreement and the condition precedent for a dialogue that Pakistan territory should not be used for terrorism was done away with".
He said the Congress and its leadership should come out with detailed facts on what transpired in the meeting and what was its necessity under the present circumstances.
Jaitley said that until Sunday the Congress was denying the meeting and "today instead of accepting this as a misadventure, they try to blame those who are raising this issue".
Asked if the leaders present at the meeting should be tried for treason, he said it is a political misadventure and "it has a political cost".
Asked about Singh's statement that Gujarat elections, as stated by Prime Minister, was not discussed at the dinner, Jaitley said the party must explain the context, relevance and necessity of such a meet.
He said the main Opposition party is expected to follow the national policy, which states that terror and talks cannot go hand in hand.
"Is (the) main opposition party not part of the State?" he asked.
Jaitley said that if anyone defies the national line, he should be prepared to answer questions.
In response to Singh's demand for apology, Jaitley further said people who have violated the national policy of talks and terror not going hand in hand should apologise.
On Singh's comment that remarks by Modi at a public rally had demeaned the office of the Prime Minister, Jaitley said debate never demeans any office.