As they prepare to mark 100 days in office, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP and the Home Minister were today involved in damage control amidst apparent differences at the top after embarrassing media reports that Rajnath Singh's son was ticked off by Modi for an alleged "misconduct".
As opposition parties revelled in the discomfort of the ruling party, BJP President Amit Shah also joined the PM and Singh in condemning the reports saying "propaganda" against ministers is baseless and misleading.
Shortly after newspapers carried reports of Prime Minister's unhappiness over some alleged misdemeanour of Singh's son Pankaj and that he was warned about it, Home Minister Rajnath Singh sought to scotch the "rumours", saying he would quit politics if even "prima facie" it is proved that any of his family member had been involved in any misconduct.
An emotional Singh made a brief statement to the media saying rumours about alleged wrong doings by his family members have been floating around for the last fortnight.
"In the last 15-20 days, there have been continuous rumours in the air about me and my family. I thought rumours have no basis and these will end in some days.
"But I am seeing that these rumours are gaining momentum day-by-day. I want to assure the nation that the day allegations, even prima facie or even small, are proven against me or my family, I will quit politics and public life and sit at home," he said in a hurriedly called interaction with journalists outside his office in North Block.
The Home Minister said he has talked to Modi and BJP President Amit Shah about it and both of them expressed surprise and termed the rumours as completely baseless.
Simultaneously, the PMO also issued a statement, rubbishing the reports and dubbing them as "plain lies, motivated and malicious attempt" to tarnish the image of the government.
"This has reference to reports appearing in a section of the media over the past several weeks, mentioning the Prime Minister, and referring to the conduct of some Union Ministers, and alleged misconduct of the Home Minister's son," the PMO statement said.
"The reports are plain lies, motivated and constitute a malicious attempt at character assassination and tarnishing the image of the Government," it said.
"Those indulging in such rumour-mongering are damaging the interest of the nation. These reports are strongly denied," the PMO said.
The denials came in the wake of a media report that Rajnath Singh was unhappy over rumours being spread by "a ministerial colleague" and "party rival" about his son being pulled up by the Prime Minister over some alleged misconduct.
Asked who could be floating the rumours, Singh said that was something for the investigative journalists to find out.
On the possibility of a political rival spreading these rumours, the Home Minister parried a direct reply, saying, "I have nothing to say on this."
The Home Minister denied that he has complained to the RSS about these rumours.
In a separate statement, Shah said the integrity of all ministers is beyond doubt as he condemned allegations against the Home Minister's son.
The BJP Chief also accused a section of the media of targeting Ministers of its government for some time now by propagating unfounded and baseless reports and asked them to desist from indulging in such propaganda and base their reports on facts.
"As the national president of the party, it is my belief that the conduct of all our Ministers is of high standard and their integrity beyond doubt. All such propaganda against them is baseless and misleading," he said.
On reports relating to Rajnath and his son, he said, "Rajnath Singh's political life is an example of decency, dignity and honesty. Any allegations against him are baseless and inspired by the bad intent of tarnishing the image of the party. I condemn it strongly. I feel personally hurt due to this incident."
The BJP President said such attempts to take away the focus of the Narendra Modi government on development from the eyes of the public will not succeed.
He said Rajnath Singh has carried out his role as three- time Union Minister and party president for an equal number of times and as former Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh with highest integrity, while his son Pankaj has been working as a loyal partyman in the state for the last 10 years.
Shah also lauded the role played by Rajnath Singh in leading the party to a stupendous victory while closely working with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
However, the opposition was eager to fish in the troubled waters with Congress taking potshots at the government and asking it to spell out as to what the allegations were about.
"The strange thing is that as opposition party, Congress has not levelled any allegation against his (Rajnath's) son.
"So the country and the Congress party want to know.... Rajnath Singhji, Prime Minister you should first of all say what are the allegations against his son, that you are denying," Congress spokesman Ajay Maken said while referring to the denials issued by the PMO as well as Rajnath Singh.
"With a lot of humility, the Congress party also wants to know from Rajnath Singh, that when it, the principal opposition party, had not levelled any such allegation, then who has made these allegations against you," he asked.
CPI leader D Raja said, "Without any fire, there cannot be any smoke. It shows there are a lot of things...There is internal strife...The politics is changing."
He said the denials by the PMO and Home Minister were "too late and too little" as reports have been appearing in national dailies for days together.
Surprisingly, JD-U leader Sharad Yadav came to Rajnath Singh's support, saying the allegations were "baseless" as he (Rajnath) is a "spotless" person.
Senior CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury said, "It is very much evident that there are differences in the BJP. How to solve this, is the party's internal matter. Now, they have to decide."
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