New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi's jibe at the previous UPA government during his Canada trip, saying he would "clean up the dirt" left behind by them, was "regrettable" and "nothing less than disgraceful", Congress MP Shashi Tharoor said here on Sunday.
"Saying that abroad was not healthy. Political speechifying is normal in any democracy, but you do it at home. We have always held the view that our political differences should stop at the waters' edge. And that's why it was rather regrettable that the prime minister spoke in that way about his predecessors," Tharoor told IANS here.
During his speech to the Indian diaspora at the Ricoh Coliseum in Toronto on April 16, Modi had promised to "clean up" the "dirt" left behind by the previous government and said there is a new atmosphere of trust in India.
People cheered him when Modi, while referring to his mission to clean India and root out corruption, said in Hindi: "Jinhone gandgi karni thee, woh kar ke chale gaye. Lekin hum safai kar ke jayenge (Those who created scams and dirt have now gone, we will clean up the mess)." The prime minister drew the biggest applause when he said his mission is "Skill India while their's was Scam India".
Tharoor said: "After all, the leaders he (Modi) is meeting have also met the leaders who were his predecessors, and it is rather insulting. Imagine if I come to you and say: 'Ah, the previous person who was in my job was a useless chap'. that is not a nice thing to do to an outsider. And I think that really was nothing less than disgraceful."
The Congress has also contested Modi's claim that his Canada visit was the first bilateral by an Indian prime minister in 42 years. The party says former prime minister Manmohan Singh went to Canada in 2010. The Modi government cl-ims it was the first "stand alone visit".
Tharoor said: "How does stand-alone matter. The statement made was that it was the first visit to Canada in 42 years, which is factually incorrect. And they also tried to explain it was a bilateral visit, and that Manmohan Singh's was allegedly a G20 visit; but the truth is that Manmohan Singh did both the G20 and the bilateral with the Canadian prime minister.
"You can go on the website of prime minister of Canada, there is an account of the bilateral, the word 'bilateral' is used, summit between the two of them. So stand-alone is a peculiar concept; neither Anand Sharma and I, who have both been ministers in the external affairs ministry, see much of a distinction there. It's a question of whether you have had a bilateral visit or not; and yes we have had it five years ago."