NEW DELHI: Virtually ruling out an apology by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Monday charged former prime minister Manmohan Singh with defying the national line by meeting Pakistani diplomats and demanded to know the context, relevance and necessity of such a meet.
Terming the meeting as "political misadventure", Jaitley wanted Singh and the Congress to explain the context of attending the dinner hosted by suspended party leader Mani Shankar Aiyar for Pakistani diplomats.
He said the main Opposition party is expected to follow the national policy, which states that terror and talks cannot go hand-in-hand.
"Is (the) main opposition party not part of the State?" he asked.
Jaitley said that if anyone defies the national line, he should be prepared to answer questions.
"It is a political misadventure, it has a political cost," he said.
Jaitley addressed a press conference hours after Singh asked the Prime Minister to apologise to the nation for setting a "dangerous precedent".
He wanted the former prime minister to explain what transpired at the meeting and went on to defend his government's track record of fighting terror, saying no government in the past has a track record this government has in fighting terrorism.
In response to Singh's demand for apology, Jaitley further said people who have violated the national policy of talks and terror not going hand in hand should apologise.
Earlier on Monday, Manmohan Singh on Monday asked Narendra Modi to apologise to the nation for 'his ill-thought transgression' of accusing him and Congress party of conspiring with Pakistan for BJP's defeat in the Gujarat polls.
Coming down heavily on Modi, Manmohan said he and his party need no sermons on nationalism by a prime minister "whose compromised track record on fighting terrorism is well known".
Modi had claimed that some Pakistani officials and Manmohan Singh met at Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar's house over dinner on December 6. This was a day before Aiyar's "neech" jibe against Modi.
Singh issued a statement on Monday, listing those who attended the dinner, and stressed that the election was not discussed during the meeting.
"I reject the innuendos and falsehoods as I did not discuss Gujarat elections with anyone else at the dinner hosted by Mani Shankar Aiyar as alleged by Modi," he said.
Read the full statement issued by Manmohan Singh
I am deeply pained and anguished by the falsehood and canards being spread to score political points in a lost cause by none less than Prime Minister, Sh. Narendra Modi. Fearing imminent defeat in Gujarat, the desperation of Prime Minister to hurl every abuse and latch on to every straw is palpable. Sadly and regrettably, Sh. Modi is setting a dangerous precedent by his insatiable desire to tarnish every constitutional office including that of a former Prime Minister and Army Chief.
The Congress party needs no sermons on nationalism from a party and Prime Minister, whose compromised track record on fighting terrorism is well known. Let me remind Sh. Narendra Modi that he had gone to Pakistan uninvited after the terrorist attacks in Udhampur and Gurdaspur. Let him also tell the country the reason for inviting the infamous ISI of Pakistan to our strategic Air Base in Pathankot to investigate a terror attack that emanated from Pakistan.
My track record of public service to the country over last five decades is known to everyone. No one, including Sh. Modi, can lamely question it to gain lost political ground.
I reject the innuendos and falsehoods as I did not discuss Gujarat election with anyone else at dinner hosted by Sri Mani Shankar Aiyar as alleged by Sh. Narendra Modi. Nor was the Gujarat issue raised by anyone else present at the dinner. The discussion was confined to India Pakistan relations. Names of the distinguished Indian public servants and journalists present at the dinner are enclosed to this statement. None of them could be accused of indulging in any Anti-National activities.
I sincerely hope that Prime Minister will show the maturity and gravitas expected of the high office he holds instead of concentrating is energy solely on erroneously conceived brownie points. I sincerely hope that he will apologize to the nation for his ill-thought transgression to restore the dignity of the office he occupies.