New Delhi: Congress on Saturday questioned the timing of Narendra Modi`s expression of "pain" and "anguish" over 2002 Gujarat riots, accusing him of doing it as part of an "image makeover" before the Lok Sabha elections.
"This is just an attempt of an image makeover," party general secretary Ambika Soni told reporters here.
"I do not want to cast any aspersions...But the question does come up to my mind. 10-12 years is a long period in public life. There were moments when there was pressure on him to do so. But he never did it earlier. Why is he suddenly doing it just before Lok Sabha elections?”
"Why after so many years, he has become so emotional not to leave any word in the dictionary to say all this?...Ask him why he did not express his pain and anguish earlier...It`s a part of a strategy" before the elections, she said.
Soni was talking to the media after Congress president Sonia Gandhi hoisted the party flag at the AICC headquarters on the 128th Foundation Day of Indian National Congress.
In a 1,000-word blog containing his most detailed comments on the 2002 riots, Modi yesterday said that he felt "absolute emptiness" on witnessing such "inhumanity".
A day after a magistrate`s court upheld a clean chit given to him by a Supreme Court-appointed probe panel in the massacre of 68 people in Gulberg Housing Society in Ahmedabad during the riots, Modi said he did not see the ruling as a personal victory or defeat.
Though she downplayed contentions of anti-Congress wave in the country, Soni said, "when people vote us out, we know we have to introspect why they did so.
She said whenever Congress weakens, the communal forces resurrects. "And whenever such forces raise their head, we rise to the occasion...We have learnt the lessons. Congress is borne out of struggle."
Soni also admitted about growing realisation within the party that the issues of rising prices and corruption were factors in the recent Assembly Elections.
"When people have to pay more money for essential commodities, they do get annoyed. May be we as party workers were not able to explain to the people reasons for the price rise," she said.
Noting that corruption has always been an issue, she said, "We are taking the steps. Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi yesterday outlined the steps."
Asked about Arvind Kerjiwal`s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) coming to power trouncing the 15-year-old Congress government in Delhi, she said, "it is always easier to attract people when you are fighting against someone. Let us give them weeks at least and see how do they perform. It is not easy to fulfil all promises. It is easier to defeat someone."
To a question about possibilities of Congress withdrawing support from AAP at a later stage amid voices of protest within the party over the issue, she said, "I do not think that the Congress Party acts in negative manner...It (the decision to support AAP) must have been taken with a common consensus...It was something that the circumstances warranted."
Soni said the Congress party supported AAP to form a government as otherwise people would have faced financial burden of another election.
To a question about BJP`s criticism that Rahul Gandhi instead of going before media could have directly told Maharashtra Chief Minister to reconsider the state cabinet`s decision rejecting the Adarsh panel report, Soni said Gandhi responded to the issue while replying to a question.
"Who knows he must have talked to the Chief Minister. He is vice president (of the party). He holds personal interactions with all Chief Ministers," she said.
Asked whether the Union Cabinet of Maharashtra will reconsider its earlier decision, she said that there is an alliance government in the state and what is necessary will be done in consultation with the coalition partner.