Home minister Sushilkumar Shinde's remarks that the coal issue will soon fade away from public memory like Bofors has drawn sharp reactions with Opposition parties reminding him that Congress lost power after that controversy and could never get a majority on its own since then.
"In 1984 post-Indira Gandhi's death, when elections happened, Congress had won more than 400 seats. After five years post Bofors scandal, Congress was out of power and its seats got halved," BJP leader Balbir Punj said.
"It's a different matter whether people have forgotten Bofors or not but Congress has forgotten what Bofors had done to it. Since then, Congress has not got majority on its own," Punj said.
CPI's D Raja also reminded the ruling party that the fact that it lost elections after Bofors is a message that people gave to the government of the day.
"Congress party and Shinde should remember this," he said.
JD-U President Sharad Yadav, who described Shinde as his "old friend" also, did not hide his displeasure over Shinde's remarks advising him to concentrate more on his ministry.
"He has come to Delhi very recently. His importance is due to Congress party. Better he confines himself to speaking about home ministry. He should speak less on political issues," Yadav said.
Commenting on Shinde's statement, Shiv Sena on Sunday said he articulated "attitude" of the UPA government.
"Shinde has spoken out the attitude of the UPA government," Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray said.
Reacting to Shinde's remarks, Sena MP Sanjay Raut said, "One can be oblivious if hands are blackened, but how can one be oblivious if his face is blackened?"
Shinde's statement was disgraceful, Raut added.
The Congress on Sunday declined comment on Union home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde's remark that the coal issue will soon fade away from public memory as had happened in the case of the 1984-85 Bofors controversy.
Party spokesperson Rashid Alvi said he was not aware of Shinde's comment.
"I don't know what Sushilji has said. We will talk to him in this regard, then talk to you," he said.
Another Congress leader Rashid Masood said only Shinde can disclose the motive behind his statement.
"Whenever you erect a building on a wrong foundation, then the building will collapse... This only Sushil Kumar Shinde can say what his motive behind this statement was. But I can tell you this much that the common man of this country will forget all things, which is falsely based," he said.
Addressing a function in Pune on Saturday, Shinde said in a lighter vein that "earlier the Bofors was a talking point. People forgot about it. Now it is coal. This too will be forgotten".
"Once hands are washed off coal, they again become clean," the home minister said sending ripples among the audience gathered for an award distribution ceremony in memory of eminent Marathi poet late Narayan Surve.
When reporters quizzed Shinde about his remark after the function, he said, "Do you remember petrol pumps (scam) during NDA rule?".