In his sharpest riposte yet to BJP leader LK Advani, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday said he did not wish to have a television debate with him as he did not want to accord him the privilege of being "an alternative prime minister".
Attacking Advani for repeatedly calling him a weak prime minister, Manmohan Singh retorted: "I am not used to abusive language. That is the culture inherited from parents, from teachers and the concept of what Indianness is."
"Using harsh language does not solve any problem and accentuates conflict," he said in his interaction with members of the Indian Women's Press Corps.
"Kamzor ya strong judge karne ke liye zor zor se baatein karne se nahin hota (By merely talking loudly one does not become strong or weak)," he said.
Alluding to Advani's challenge to him for a American-style nationally televised debate, Manmohan Singh said that I can't match "Advaniji in public speaking or asserting things.
"I am not a good speaker, but I take decisions.
"I believe that the proof of the pudding is in the eating. What is the record of Advani?," he asked.
"The BJP has not allowed parliament to function. The BJP shied away from all these discussions and now Advani wants to come and debate with me. And I don't want to give him the privilege that he is an alternative prime minister," he said.
Manmohan Singh also took on Advani for taunting him for not contesting Lok Sabha polls. "There have been PMs from Rajya Sabha. Advani has to amend the constitution to ensure that his wishes prevail. Indira Gandhi had been one for one and half years, HD Deve Gowda, IK Gujral too," he replied when asked whether he was planning to contest Lok Sabha polls.