Congress on Wednesday took anti-Modi rhetoric to a high pitch by calling the BJP prime ministerial candidate impotent, accusing him of failing to protect the people killed in 2002 Gujarat carnage.
"Modi was not able to stop his own minister, Maya Kodnani, from presiding over a massacre. He could not protect a mob which killed (former Parliament member) Ehsan Jafri," minister of external affairs Salman Khurshid said.
"What should I say if not impotent? Impotent means he failed to do what he was supposed to do. Modi was incompetent to stop the violence. He didn't have the capability to stop what happened," the minister said.
Later, speaking to CNN-IBN, he asked the BJP to look up dictionary for what impotent means.
"I am talking about politics of incompetence, therefore politics of impotence. I am not saying he was responsible for riots. He claims to be a strong person who wants to be a PM but couldn't stop his own minister," Khurshid added.
More than 1200 people, mostly Muslims, were killed in the Gujarat carnage that happened after about 60 Hindu pilgrims returning from Ayodhya were burnt alive in a train near Godhra. Modi has been criticised for not doing enough to stop the anti-Muslim pogrom that followed.
Reacting to BJP president Rajnath Singh's statement that the saffron party was willing to apologise for shortcomings and mistakes in the past, Khurshid said the BJP owe an apology to the nation, not Muslims alone.
"They always view Muslims as separate from the nation. What does it mean to offer apology to Muslims only. What they did in Gujarat affected the nation, not Muslims alone," he said.
Reacting to Khurshid's remarks, BJP spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad said the comments were "shameful and regrettable".