The Bharatiya Janata Party on Tuesday hit back at Finance Minister P Chidambaram for criticising Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, and claimed Chidambaram has given a walkover by accepting that no Congress leader matches the calibre of its prime ministerial candidate.
“If Chidambaram saheb considers himself better than Indira Gandhi, then it is a different thing. Atalji and Advaniji are our leaders. If he wants to give an example, Chidambaram saheb should know that Modiji is far better than Rahul Gandhi. He should compare him (Modi) with his party’s prime ministerial candidate,” said BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain.
“By drawing a comparison between the leaders of our party, he is giving a walkover and accepting that no Congress leader matches the calibre of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate,” he added.
In an exclusive interview to Reuters on Monday, Chidambaram dismissed the emergence of Modi on the national political stage as ‘largely media created’.
“I think don't write us off so early, and we are not facing a Vajpayee today. We are facing a Mister Narendra Modi who has got a very very checkered track record,” he said.
“I am glad you acknowledge prime minister Rahul Gandhi, but that is a question you should put to him,” Chidambaram said, when asked who would be the prime minister if the Congress wins a third straight term in office in the election.
“The time has come for the torch to be passed on to a new and younger generation,” he added, while hinting that Rahul Gandhi would be the next leader of the party.
Chidambaram, however, conceded that Modi had united the rank and file of the BJP, but said his party's challenger was someone with a "very, very chequered track record".
“I concede that he has united the rank and file of the BJP. Rank and file of the BJP was divided, the leaders are still divided, the rank and file was equally divided but he has been able to unite the rank and file. Perhaps he has gained some traction among urban youth but I think it will be a gross exaggeration to say that people are not worried about his positions, his policies, his past, his track record,” he said.