New Delhi: The Congress Tuesday demanded an apology from Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi for his allegation that the central government spent Rs.1,880 crore on UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi's foreign visits and medical treatment abroad. However, the BJP strongman stuck to his guns saying the Congress should reveal RTI queries on Gandhi's travel.
Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari termed Modi's remarks an attempt at gaining cheap publicity. "Whatever has been said is baseless and untrue," he told reporters in New Delhi.
Asked if the party would demand an apology from Modi, Tewari said Modi lacked the stature to tender an apology.
Hitting back at Modi, the Congress spokesperson alleged the real issue in Gujarat was the embezzlement of Rs.1 lakh crore from the exchequer. He said documents for the misappropriation had been given to the Central Vigilance Commission by Congress MPs.
"If he has the courage let him order a suo motu court-monitored probe into the charges," said Tewari, adding that "the people of Gujarat would hold him accountable as his tall developmental claims were like castles of sand".
"Modi should apologise to the nation and to the Gandhi family now that it is proved that his allegations on Soniaji's foreign visits and her treatment abroad were wrong," said Congress leader Rajiv Shukla.
Modi had criticised the central government Monday for questioning the Gujarat government for spending money on festivities and celebrations. He said the state should not be questioned when the central government has itself spent Rs.1,880 crore for Gandhi's foreign trips and "treatment abroad" over three years.
Gandhi went abroad Sep 1 for a routine medical check-up and returned after a week. She had gone to the US for a surgery related to an undisclosed ailment last year.
Undaunted by the Congress criticism, Modi in a tweet said: "UPA takes credit of bringing RTI but why don't they answer RTI queries on Mrs. Sonia Gandhi's travel for so many years.""
Addressing a gathering in Gandhinagar, Modi said that information sought under RTI about Gandhi's foreign trips three years ago has not yet been provided.
"..If you have to shut Modi's mouth, then make public details about Sonia Gandhi's foreign tours, from the time Manmohan Singh's government came to power in 2004, till now," Modi said.
He said he had "nothing to do with her personal life but wanted to know if money was borne by the national exchequer, then it is the right of people of this country that information about it should be made public"".
Meanwhile, in Kolkata BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi sought clarification from the UPA government on Modi's allegation that Rs.1,880 crore had been spent on Congress president Sonia Gandhi's foreign trips.
"Modi has said something (on the government spending on Gandhi's foreign trips). So the government should issue a statement," Joshi told reporters.
Joshi also mocked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi for planning to hold a rally in New Delhi in support of foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail.
"It is really funny to see the prime minister along with UPA chairperson lobbying for foreign companies," he said.
"FDI in retail will finish small traders and farmers. In the name of reforms, they (the UPA) are trying to destroy the federal structure of the country. They have lost the moral mandate to rule," said Joshi.