The Congress on Tuesday accused Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party of trying to appropriate Sardar Patel's legacy, which "belongs to Congress", and reminded that Patel had said that it was the "communal poison of RSS" which killed Mahatma Gandhi.
The party hit out at Modi on Patel issue on a day, when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is sharing dais with him in Ahmedabad at a function to inaugurate a museum dedicated to life of India's first Home Minister and freedom fighter Patel.
"For last few months, BJP is trying to usurp the legacy of Sardar Patel. History is witness to the fact that those who do not have any history of legacy try to appropriate the same of others. My advice to the Gujarat chief minister, who is the prime ministerial candidate of the BJP and a RSS Swayamsevak is that he should study what the legacy actually is that he is trying to appropriate," Union Minister Manish Tewari told reporters.
"On September 9, 1948, Patel, the then home minister of the country had written to RSS founder M S Golwalkar in which the former had said that as a final result of communal poison, the country had to suffer the sacrifice of life by Mahatma Gandhi. Patel referred to communal poison spread by RSS that Golwalkar headed. Does Swayamsevak Modi agree with Patel or endorses his views RSS. Whose legacy they crave," he said.
BJP has often accused Congress of ignoring Patel's legacy and promoting Nehru-Gandhi dynasty. Modi, who has often criticised UPA of "weak response" on terrorism and handling Pakistan had also been making a big issue of his proposed plan to construct the longest statue of "iron man" Patel in Gujarat by collecting iron pieces from farmers across India.
Slamming the BJP over the move, party general secretary Digvijay Singh said that BJP now wants to project as their ideal Patel, who had banned the RSS after the killing of Gandhi.
"First they promised a Ram temple to us, collected donations but the temple was not built...first they sold off the bricks now they will sell iron."
Tewari said there is no dispute over Patel's legacy -- and that of Patel being a Congress leader.
Tewari said Patel believed that the "communal poison" injected by the RSS in the bodypolitik and social life led to the killing of Gandhi.
"As a student of history, it has always intrigued me that RSS and BJP have been making attempts unsuccessfully to appropriate the legacy of Patel. I want to ask BJP and their newly-anointed pretender. Do they endorse these views of Patel about RSS, which is the mother of BJP," Tewari said.
To a question about Modi saying he was misquoted about Jawaharlal Nehru not attending the funeral of Sardar Patel, Tewari said, "When you don't read or write, you make such bloomers and when you make the bloomer, the media always becomes the whipping boy. I do not know why the media is so kind to him."
Modi's remark about Nehru had led to a huge controversy with Digvijay Singh hitting back at the Gujarat Chief Minister calling him a "megalomaniac psychopath liar".
Alleging that communal polarisation in the country happened due to the character, conduct and functioning of the BJP, Tewari accused the BJP of "doublespeak" on the issue of terrorism reminding the Opposition party of the release of terrorists during the Kandhar plane hijack.
"History shows that whenever terrorism raised its head, they did not have the competence to deal with it," he said claiming that on the other hand the Congress-led UPA has shown "zero tolerance".
"As far the question of terror is concerned, the UPA government has always maintained zero tolerance policy whenever any terrorist activity took place anywhere. Those, who were responsible for such incidents should be tracked down to the last corner of the world.
"Let there be absolutely no confusion on the question of terror. In the last ten years, the UPA has strengthened the country's capability to fight terror," Tewari said.
He also said that while the UPA has been restrained and temperate in political discourse, the BJP has shown "complete hysteria and intemperance".