Stung by his charge that Pranab Mukherjee was twice denied opportunity to become PM, Congress on Wednesday reminded Narendra Modi of the "humiliating" treatment meted out to elders in BJP and said he was no one to give lessons as he "had not spared even his guru LK Advani".
Information and broadcasting minister Manish Tewari said it was unfortunate that Modi had sought "to drag" the office of President into political discourse for scoring political brownie points.
"Instead of giving 'gyan' and lessons to Congress and others on how to respect elders, Modi should look within and even now correct himself after self-introspection," party spokesman Randeep Surjewala told the BJP prime ministerial candidate in a sharp retort.
Tewari said the President is a symbol of Indian state and is supposed to be above partisan politics – a decorum that has been maintained.
"But unfortunately in chief minister of Gujarat, you see a tendency that to score political brownie points inorder to take a partisan potshot, he does not even spare the office of the President of India."
"I think its extremely unfortunate that the chief minister of Gujarat has sought to trample constitutional propriety by dragging the august office of the President of India into a political discourse," he told reporters in New Delhi.
Lamenting that Modi has levelled allegations against this nature on Gandhi family, Surjewala said that the President had been "one of the most experienced politicians" in public life.
"Congress party has been enriched by his wisdom, years of experience and adminstrative acumen and he has served the Congress in many positions from senior most members of Congress Working Committee, general secretay and in several ministerial positions for decades working with Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, Narasimha Rao, Sitaram Kesri and Sonia Gandhi."
Recalling how Modi treated Keshubhai Patel, Sanjay Joshi, Haren Pandya, Advani and "many others", he said that the the Gujarat chief minister's remarks about Mukherjee's relationship with Congress reflects the "real nature of BJP's self appointed PM candidate".
"Modi conveniently forgot Keshubhai Patel, who was not only one time chief minister of Gujarat but also one of the most senior leaders. The manner in which Modi humiliated him and threw him out of not only chief ministership but also BJP. The way, he behaved with Harin Pandya is known to one and all."
"The kind of treatment BJP and particularly Modi meted out to their senior leaders is also well-known.... Their patriarch and guru LK Advani had to resign from all party posts and go into hibernation (kop bhavan)," Surjewala said.
He said Modi's statement on Mukherjee is in line with his habit of ridiculing important individuals and posts and that he had "not spared even his guru Advani".
Addressing a rally in Kolkata, Modi said Mukherjee was twice denied the opportunity to be the country's prime minister.