PALANPUR, GUJARAT: India and Pakistan sparred on Monday morning after Prime Minister Narendra Modi suggested at a rally yesterday that Pakistan is trying to influence the assembly elections in Gujarat, linking it to a dinner hosted by Mani Shankar Aiyar, now suspended by the Congress, for top leaders of his party and Pakistani officials last week. The Congress has said the Prime Minister’s allegations are “highly irresponsible and outrageous” and has demanded an apology. The party’s vice-president Rahul Gandhi said at an election rally today, “Modi-ji, this is Gujarat elections, talk a little bit about Gujarat too.”
Here are the top 10 developments in this big story:
1.”Completely abhor outside interference in India’s internal affairs. Pakistan’s promotion of terrorism in India is well known but Pakistan must stop giving us lessons, we are proud of our democracy. Condemn this unwarranted statement,” union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said in response to a tweet by Pakistan’s Foreign office.
2.Pakistan’s foreign office spokesperson has tweeted, “India should stop dragging Pakistan into its electoral debate and win victories on own strength rather than fabricated conspiracies, which are utterly baseless and irresponsible.”
3.PM Modi has alleged that just a day before Mani Shankar Aiyar made the “neech” slur against him last Thursday, the Gujarat elections were discussed at the dinner he hosted for former Pakistan foreign affairs minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri’s visit and attended among others, by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, former vice president Hamid Ansari, ex Army Chief Deepak Kapoor and the Pakistan High Commisioner.
4.”Pakistan Army’s former DG is interfering in Gujarat’s election, on the other, Pakistani people are holding a meeting at Mani Shankar Aiyar’s house. After that meeting, people of Gujarat, backward communities, poor people and Modi were insulted. Don’t you think such events raise doubts,” PM Modi said in his speech in Gujarat’s Banaskantha.
5.”This is a serious matter,” PM Modi said, adding that the Congress must explain the meeting and also former Pakistani Army officer Sardar Arshad Rafiq’s “post” saying that the Congress’ Ahmed Patel, who is a Gujarat Rajya Sabha lawmaker and political secretary to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, should be Gujarat’s next chief minister.
6.The Congress’s Anand Sharma has asked if permission needs to be sought now for a “casual dinner,” and has sought an apology for what he called an outrageous charge. The Congress, he said, will “force” the Prime Minister to apologise when the winter session of Parliament begins on Friday, December 15.
7.Two ex-diplomats who attended the dinner last Wednesday said discussions revolved around India-Pakistan ties only and the Gujarat elections were not discussed. Manmohan Singh was present during the discussions but “did not say a thing”, top sources said.
8.Pavan Verma of BJP ally the Janata Dal (United) said the PM’s allegation on Pakistani interference “is taking it a little too far.” The BJP’s rebellious Shatrughan Sinha said it was “incredible,” saying in a tweet, “Hon’ble Sir! Just to win elections anyhow, and that too at the fag end of the process, is it a must to come up with & endorse new, unsubstantiated & unbelievable stories everyday against political opponents?”
9.Mani Shankar Aiyar’s comment calling him a “neech aadmi” has dominated PM Modi’s speeches since last week; he has said his home state Gujarat will “take revenge on voting day.” On Friday he said Mr Aiyar had spoken in Pakistan about “a supari (contract) to get Modi out of the way.”
10.After a bitter campaign, Gujarat voted in the first phase of assembly elections on Saturday. The second and last phase will be held on Thursday. Results in what is seen as a PM Modi vs Rahul Gandhi battle will be announced on Monday next, December 18.