Under attack for his controversial remarks on Sohrabuddin Sheikh killing, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday appeared to have back-tracked saying fake police encounters "cannot be accepted" and he has never justified it.
However, he accused Congress president Sonia Gandhi of "provoking" him to play the Hindutva card during the campaign to next week's Assembly elections.
Modi, who on Tuesday justified the Sohrabuddin fake encounter killing saying he "deserved it", said " I do not justify fake police encounters."
Modi said he and his government are against fake encounters and have taken a stand against it in the Supreme Court.
"Fake encounters cannot be accepted. I have never justified it and I have always condemned it," he told Times TV channel onboard his specially customised van in the midst of his poll campaign.
Modi was pilloried by Congress and the Left parties and social activists for his utterances on Sohrabuddin killing amid strident demands that he be booked.
The Chief Minister said his poll agenda was only to raise developmental issues but was compelled to play the Hindutva card when Sonia called him "Merchant of death".
"I had kept quiet but Sonia provoked me. I felt the need to tell Sonia the truth," he said.
"I will reply to whaetever issues the Congress raises and will speak in the same language they use and I have a right to defend himself," he added.
Modi's remarks came close on the heels of Gujarat government's special counsel in Supreme Court K T S Tulsi threatening to resign if the Chief Minister does not apologise for his remarks on Sohrabuddin Sheikh.
Asserting that "he was and will be a law abiding citizen," Modi said it is his democratic duty to tell the truth to people and asserted that hostile reactions to his statements on Sohrabuddin reeked of "pseudo secularism".
Modi said he had not spoken anything harsh about Sonia during his campaign and a reference was made to her when he had to respond to her accusations.
"If it is a crime to use Sonia's name then I will stop taking her name," he said.
The Chief Minister regretted that "hundreds of accusations" were being levelled against him.
Modi said he is surprised why terrorism is always linked to minorities. "If I talk of terrorism it does not mean it is linked to terrorists," he added.
The Chief Minister said the Supreme Court should look into the realities of Sohrabuddin case guided by facts.