Gujarat polls: Narendra Modi should tread lightly, emotive Manmohan Singh could damage his cause

We all have our moments when someone sees fit to invite us to dinner. Whether we say yes or no, it is utterly crass to imagine asking for the guest list before giving an answer.

File image of Manmohan Singh. PTI

File image of Manmohan Singh. PTI

Also, if you do find someone at the party you would rather avoid you do just that… you nod politely and you avoid that person. We've all done it. People we dislike, people who were once friends, people who have let us down, people to whom we owe money, a litany of reasons.

We can question the host for not exercising discretion in bringing disparate people under one roof. We can leave if we're uncomfortable. We've all done it (with ‘leaving’ being the last resort and a coward’s way out). So why should a former Indian prime minister be intimidated on his own turf if the Pakistani ambassador is present? They are not equals, so why skedaddle off and make an issue. It was only dinner. And it was in Delhi, not Islamabad.

Modi and his team picked up on this dinner with great outrage and expect us to believe that Rahul Gandhi and Manmohan Singh conspired over the first course with Pakistanis to sabotage the BJP's chances at the hustings in Gujarat. So much for unjust desserts.

For one, is the BJP that fragile a party that it worries over a dinner? As for fraternising with the enemy, if it is such an indictment, then let’s break off diplomatic relations with Islamabad and be honest about it. You cannot have one prime minister saying ‘surprrrrrise, look who’s here’ when he spontaneously arrives at the home of Nawaz Sharif for tea and the wedding of Sharif's grand-daughter and finding virtue in it and a former prime minister being accused of anti-national activities over a lousy dinner.

It is a very serious accusation to make and I think it has woken up the lion in Singh. There is one last roar in the man and his strident and almost emotional demand for an apology from Modi is more likely to hurt Modi than anything that Rahul can do.

Singh must really have been cut to the quick. Look what he says: “I am deeply pained and anguished by the falsehoods and canards being spread to score political points in a lost cause by none less than Prime Minister Narendra Modi.... Sadly and regrettably, Modi is setting a dangerous precedent by his insatiable desire to tarnish every constitutional office, including that of a former prime minister.”

It is a relevant question and one which demands an answer. Is the office of prime minister being dishonoured not just by such rash and wild statements but also by the use of intemperate language which has now become the hallmark of Modi’s public declamations?

Arun Jaitley then picks up the ball and kicks it further by asking if permission was taken from the foreign office before meeting or entertaining Pakistanis. Last I heard, India was still a democracy. And if they are on our soil and given the rights granted to diplomats under the Vienna Convention of 1961, then so be it.

When credibility is stretched to the point of absurdity and one is asked to accept absurd scenarios just because something can be made out of nothing, you have to ask: What exactly is going on in the corridors of power? What a disservice to India to give Pakistan the impression that they can intrigue to this high-level in a house of non-entity to topple state governments. They must be loving it.

Just to see an angry Singh indicates how far down the road our political entities have gone and are now swimming in the muck they rake.

A simple question: Would Singh and Rahul need a retired Pakistani diplomat or two to plot some devious and Machiavellian scheme against the incumbent?

Tread lightly prime minister. Singh may just be more of a nemesis than the young lad you all find so fascinating.

Click here for detailed coverage of Gujarat Assembly Election 2017


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Updated Date: Dec 13, 2017 20:12 PM

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