New Delhi: In a dramatic U-turn, Union Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu on Thursday said the BJP does not want a "Congress-mukht Bharat" but wants it as the main opposition party.
Taking part in a discussion on the developments in Uttarakhand and Arunachal Pradesh, Naidu accused the Congress of misusing Article 356 of the Constitution when it was in power at the Centre.
"We never said 'Congress-mukt Bharat' (Congress-free India). We want a party like the Congress to be our main opposition so that we are always benefited," Naidu said.
His response came as Congress leader Anand Sharma blamed the Narendra Modi government of running a campaign for 'Congress-free India'.
"There is an agenda, there is a 'Congress mukht abhiyaan' (Congress-free campaign). The government stands fully exposed and condemned and the Prime Minister is silent," Sharma said.
"There will be no Congress-mukt (India). We are a 131-year-old party, we have fought many battles——If our numbers are less in the other house (Lok Sabha), don't think it will always be so," Sharma said.
Naidu retorted, saying the Congress misused Article 356 to impose President's rule in states several times.
"Does the Congress have any moral right to raise this question? It is like a devil quoting the scriptures. This is the party that has misused Article 356 several times. Such a party is now delivering sermons," he said.