Bharatiya Janata Party leader Arun Jaitley on Saturday said the people also have a right to know about the "illicit relationships" of several Congressmen if they have a right to know – as sought by Rahul Gandhi – about Narendra Modi's "legal" relationship.
Rahul told an election rally in Jammu and Kashmir on Friday that while BJP was making "empty noises" about women's empowerment, its prime ministerial hesitates in taking the name of his wife.
Modi, for the first time, mentioned the name of his wife Jashodaben against the spouse column in his nomination papers for Vadodara seat. In the past four assembly elections, he has been leaving the column blank.
The BJP was quick to react to Congress making a poll issue out of it. Its spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad on Friday said the saffron party had "well documented" evidence about the private lives of Nehru-Gandhi family.
Considered a close confidante of Modi, Jaitley wrote on his blog on Saturday that Rahul was guilty of breach of the unstated "code of conduct" of Indian politics, which left families and women out of controversies.
Jaitley said the "disturbed matrimonial relationship of a former Indian Prime Minister" was never a political issue.
"How many current senior Congressmen are in illicit relationships and yet have paraded their wives only for photo opportunities during nominations," Jaitley said.
"Surely if people have a right to know about the "legal" relationship of Modi, they also have a right to know about the illicit relationships of Congressmen. The latter is more relevant for people's right to know about the ethics of their candidates," Jaitley wrote.
He justified Modi's decision not to reveal his marital status earlier saying the prevailing law then did not require it.
"It is only in September, 2013, that the Supreme Court clarified that no column of the affidavit could be left blank. Narendra Modi, therefore, made a truthful disclosure. Since when has declaration of a lawful relationship, whether acted upon or not, become a political issue?" he asked.
Jaitley said the fact was sufficiently in public domain that Modi and Jashodaben were made to solemnise a marriage as young children, but they never lived together.