Commerce Minister Anand Sharma on Tuesday declined Narendra Modi's invitation for an event on Sardar Patel, suggesting that the Gujarat chief minister's motives were not sincere and the name of the great leader was being misused for partisan political agenda.
Sharma accused Modi of attempting to "brazenly usurp" the rich legacy of Sardar Vallab Bhai Patel "whose approach and beliefs militate against all that is personified by the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh, whose nominee you are."
In a strongly-worded letter, Sharma wrote to Modi that he was "unable to accept" his invitation for the ground-breaking ceremony of the 'Statue of Unity' in Ahmedabad on Thursday.
"It is surely the prerogative of the state of Gujarat to construct a befitting memorial for Sardar Vallabhbhai, a hero of India's freedom struggle.
"However, the initiators of such a grand project must be guided by sincere motives and genuinely subscribe to the noble values of Sardar and to the lofty ideals for which he dedicated his life," the Congress leader wrote to Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate.
He underlined that Patel's memory should not be "coloured by partisian political agenda as unfortunately is happening in the present case".
Referring to Modi's rally in Patna on Sunday, Sharma accused him of "misusing" the name of Sardar for "political propaganda" with a "deliberate untruth" and said it was disrespect to the memory of the first home minister.
"It is rather odd that you have attempted to brazenly usurp the rich legacy of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, whose approach and beliefs militate against all that is personified by the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh, whose nominee you are," Sharma wrote.
He further wrote that the rich legacy of Sardar Patel cannot be "appropriated" for political expediency or electoral gains.