Congress on Friday distanced itself from Union Minister Jairam Ramesh's remarks that Narendra Modi poses a challenge to the party saying it was his personal view.
"Modi could be a challenge for the Bharatiya Janata Party and the National Democratic Alliance but not for the Congress....we do not consider him a challenge. It is the considered view of the Congress party," party spokesman Shakeel Ahmed told reporters in reply to a volley of questions from reporters.
"What Jairam has said may be his personal view. Right now, he has become a challenge for the BJP and the NDA itself," Ahmed snapped back.
Asked whether his comments meant that the All India Congress Committee has pulled up the Union minister who has found himself in controversies earlier too, "there is no question of pulling him up, defending or supporting him..." He was asked to comment on Ramesh's remarks that the controversial Gujarat Chief Minister, who has been made the chief of the campaign committee by the BJP for the Lok Sabha polls, posed a managerial as well as an ideological challenge on the Congress.
In an interview to PTI, Ramesh, the rural development minister, had dubbed Modi as India's "first authentic fascist" and had conceded that the BJP leader poses a "challenge" for the Congress party in the coming elections.
Ramesh was perhaps the first Congress leader to speak spoken about Modi as a "challenge" after generally being dismissive about him as just a leader of Gujarat.
The minister, however, had dismissed suggestions that the Congress was afraid of the Gujarat chief minister. Ramesh is not new to controversies. Once as environment minister he had criticised the home ministry from Beijing for stalling Chinese telecom projects because of security apprehensions.
Sometime back, he had kicked up an issue drawing flak from many quarters as he highlighted the sanitation situation in the country.