The Bharatiya Janata Party on Monday played down Wharton's cancellation of video address by Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, saying he enjoys huge popularity in India and does not need an acceptance certificate from any international body.
"It is Modi's acceptance in India that matters. He needs no certificate from any international forum. He had not filed an application to speak at Wharton. They had invited him. Let them keep it," BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain told reporters in reply to a question.
Wharton Business School had invited Modi to deliver an address via video conference on March 22-23 but cancelled it Sunday following uproar from a section of university professors and students for inviting him.
The post-Godhra riots of 2002 continue to haunt Modi at the international fora. The US has denied him a visa.
Hussain said Gujarat is progressing under Modi's leadership and the whole world is recognising this now.
"While there is a growing acceptance of Modi around the world, the MMC trio -- of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Planning Commission Deputy Chairperson Montek Singh Ahluwalia and Finance Minister P Chidambaram -- is bringing down the GDP of the country," he said.
The BJP maintained that a certificate from the people is more important for a leader and Modi has got this through a vote for him in the assembly elections. Modi was hailed at the just concluded BJP National Council for this third consecutive election victory in Gujarat.
"This should be the criteria and the parameter for (judging) Modi. It does not matter what a lobby based in the US is thinking," Hussain said.
Taking a swipe at the Congress for its criticism of Modi after the cancellation of his address, BJP said its workers have risen to become leaders with their hard work while leaders from the Congress party came only from one family.
"It is a minor issue. Students wanted to listen to Modi. But it is unfortunate that the organisation cancelled the function," BJP Spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said.
Meanwhile, the organising committee of the prestigious annual event apologised for putting the university and the WhartonSchool administration in a "difficult position".
On the Congress attack of Modi that he is "not a leader of stature", Javadekar said, "There is no leadership crisis in BJP. (Union Minister V) Narayanasamy should look within as there is crisis of leadership in the Congress.
"Leaders in the Congress come from only one family. In BJP, leaders come up in a democratic way through hard work and display of their talent.
The Congress had hit out at BJP for its focus on Modi, saying it betrays a "leadership vacuum" in the main Opposition party as the Gujarat chief minister is "not a leader of stature".
"Modi is speaking in a very foul language. He is not a leader of stature. He does not have a political culture. Modi is a state chief minister. BJP is totally blank on leadership...there is leadership vacuum in BJP. They have no other leader so they are banking on him," Narayanasamy had said.