We hold Manmohan Singh in high esteem : Jaitley ; Don't believe to demean PM's post : Azad
New Delhi, Feb 27 (IBNS) : In what may be seen as a strategic retreat from their parties' virulent attacks on rival leaders which could backfire in future, the BJP and Congress on Wednesday distanced themselves from such acts.
The ball was set rolling by Finance Minister and Leader of the Rajya Sabha, Arun Jaitley, who attempted to alleviate the government-Congress impasse over Prime Minister Narendra Modi's comments about ex-PM Manmohan Singh and Pakistan, saying the BJP holds the latter in "high esteem."
"The Prime Minister's statements did not question, nor meant to question the commitment to this nation of either former PM Manmohan Singh or Former VP Hamid Ansari," Jaitley said, referring to a speech delivered by PM Modi during the Gujarat election campaign in which he insinuated that Singh and Ansari had secretly with Pakistani officials.
"Any such perception is erroneous, we hold these leaders in high esteem, as well as their commitment to India," Jaitley said in the Rajya Sabha.
Modi's comment made at a rally before the Gujarat elections raised a storm, prompting the Congress to demand the PM's apology and stall proceedings in Parliament for six consecutive days.
Acknowledging Jaitley's clarification and as if reciprocating a truce offer, the leader of the opposition in Rajya Sabha and Congress MP Gulam Nabi Azad said, "We respect the sentiment expressed by leader of the house (Jaitley)."
"From our party, I can also say that we also don't believe to demean the post of Prime Minister. So we totally disassociate ourselves with statement or comment made against PM during election, there is no scope for any derogatory remarks against PM," Azad said.
Azad's statement was an apparent reference to the remark of now-suspended Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar, who called PM Modi a "neech kisam ka aadmi (lowly person).
Aiyer's comment too was made at a campaign rally ahead of the Gujarat Assembly elections.
It was Aiyer, who had hosted a dinner in honour of few Pakistani diplomats and officials. This gave Modi a handle to raise the Pak bogey during his election rhetoric.
Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was, among others, who attended the dinner.