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Caption this: Modi, Manmohan have awkward meeting after Gujarat war of words

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had accused Manmohan Singh of colluding with Pakistan, while Singh hit back at Modi for allegedly spreading “falsehood and canards”.

india Updated: Dec 13, 2017 18:12 IST
New Delhi
Parliament attack,Narendra Modi,Manmohan Singh
Prime Minister Narendra Modi greets former PM Manmohan Singh during a ceremony for the martyrs of the 2001 Parliament attack at Parliament House in New Delhi on Wednesday.(PTI)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Manmohan Singh shook hands in a brief meeting on Wednesday, two days after the former PM sought an apology from Modi for insinuating that he, and other members of the Congress, may have colluded with Pakistan.

Modi and Singh -- gathered with others to pay homage to the martyrs of the 2001 Parliament attack – greeted each other at the sombre ceremony held at the Parliament House complex.

When Singh greeted Modi with a namaste just before the ceremony, the Prime Minister shook hands with his predecessor.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi greets former PM Manmohan Singh, as home minister Rajnath Singh, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and other dignitaries look on during a ceremony for the martyrs of the 2001 Parliament attack at Parliament House in New Delhi on Wednesday. ( PTI )

The back and forth over Pakistan started as a sideshow of the ongoing campaign ahead of the second phase of the elections to the Gujarat assembly on December 14, but soon grabbed centre stage.

On Sunday, Modi referred to a Facebook post by a former director general of the Pakistani army, Sardar Arshad Rafiq, saying Congress leader Ahmed Patel should be the next chief minister of the state, and to a meeting in Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar’s residence attended by Singh, the former vice president of India, Pakistan’s former foreign minister, and the country’s high commissioner to India. The prime minister said the meeting happened last week, a day before Aiyar called him “neech” (lowly). Aiyar has since apologised and also been suspended from the primary membership of the Congress.

On Monday, Singh, 85, said Modi’s claim was an “ill-thought transgression” and rejected his charge as “innuendos and falsehoods” . Congress spokesperson Anand Sharma accused the prime minister of dragging political discourse to an “unacceptable low” by making statements that harmed the dignity of the prime minister’s post.

In his statement, Singh added that the meeting on December 6 at Aiyar’s house was restricted to discussions about India’s relations with Pakistan and that the Gujarat polls didn’t figure in the conversation.

“My track record of public service to the country over last five decades is known to everyone. No one, including Modi, can lamely question it to gain lost political ground,” Singh said.

First Published: Dec 13, 2017 13:43 IST