Union minister Manish Tiwari on Saturday dismissed Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi's remark on Sir Creek as a "ploy to mislead people" and criticised the latter for keeping mum on the issue when it was taken up by the erstwhile NDA government at Centre with Pakistan.
"Why did Modi keep quiet on Sir Creek issue when the then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee had discussed it with the then Pakistani president Parvez Musharraf in 2004?," the information and broadcasting minister said at a press conference in Vadodara.
"Modi was chief minister in 2004 when this issue was discussed. He remained silent on Sir Creek for the last eight years and has raised the issue now ahead of the second phase of polling in 95 assembly seats, falling under the Kutch, north Gujarat and central Gujarat, due on Dec 17," he said.
The strip of water that is disputed between India and Pakistan falls in the marshlands of the Rann of Kutch.
The issue was raised by Modi, who on Wednesday shot off a letter as a "common man" to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, demanding that the disputed Sir Creek should not be handed over to the neighbouring country. The PMO had strongly rebutted the charge by saying the allegations were "baseless" and "mischievous".
Addressing an election rally here last Thursday, Modi had clarified that he raised the issue keeping in mind the scheduled arrival of Pakistani interior minister Rehman Malik in the country on December 14 when both the countries are likely to reach an agreement.
"Today is 15th December and no such agreement has taken place on the issue between the two countries, which makes it clear that it was imaginary conspiracy of Modi's mind...He is trying to mislead people of the country including 6 crore people of Gujarat", Tiwari alleged.