External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid on Friday accused Narendra Modi of lowering the level of political discourse by attacking Rahul Gandhi's remarks that Pakistani intelligence agencies were trying to lure some of the victims of Muzaffarnagar violence to terrorism.
He strongly defended the Congress Vice President's statement, saying it was a "wake up call" and the attack on a statement made with care and concern is totally unacceptable.
"I feel a tremendous sense of dismay and distress that a public announcement made with sensitivity and seriousness expressed by way of a concern should be treated by BJP this way.
"It is not an endorsement. It is a wake up call based on tragic and serious incidents. If people don't understand, please come and ask us. Don't jump to conclusions. It should be seen in a historical context so that what is said you will understand", he told NDTV.
Khurshid rejected the suggestion that Rahul Gandhi and Congress were adopting a communal pitch.
"To say that BJP will make its campaign and to avoid any reference to communalism is asking for moon. Modi's attack shows some element of desperation. The level of discourse has been lowered by Modi which has to be condemned," he said.
Modi, speaking at a meeting in Jhansi, today attacked Gandhi for saying that ISI was in touch with Muslim youth of Uttar Pradesh's Muzaffarnagar and asked him to reveal the identity of such persons or apologise publicly for levelling "serious allegations" and "defaming" the entire community.
Khurshid also dismissed questions being raised over an intelligence official talking to Gandhi about Muzaffarnagar issue, saying various people meet elected representatives.
Similarly an intelligence officer may have shared some information with Gandhi, who is an MP and Vice President of a ruling party, by way of an assessment which (if not detected) could lead to a disaster.
"It is a wake up call. He (Rahul) should be welcomed for giving such suggestions instead of being attacked."
Asked about Gandhi's projection as Prime Ministerial candidate, Khurshid said, "we accept him as leader and we want to see him in the highest office of the country. We will wait for his decision. I don't think we should be saying things which are not aligned the way he has approached (the issue)."
Asked about NCP leader Sharad Pawar's advice that Gandhi should gain administrative experience by becoming a minister before he becomes prime minister, the Minister said such doubts were not raised when the late Chandrasekhar became Prime Minister without having occupied any public office before.
Asked about the continuing ceasefire violations despite Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's talks with his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif, Khurshid said the prime minister was determined to resolve the issue but it is not an easy job.