Former Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad on Monday said he had assumed Prime Minister Narendra Modi to be a "crude man" but he had displayed humanity while recalling a terror-related incident during the farewell speech for Azad in Rajya Sabha.
After Azad quit the Congress, the party had alleged that he was "Modi-fied" and several leaders attacked him citing Modi's speech in Rajya Sabha in February last year in which the teary-eyed prime minister had praised Azad as a "true friend".
Modi had recalled the 2007 terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir on a bus carrying people from his state Gujarat when he was the chief minister and his interaction with Azad, who was then the chief minister of J-K.
Speaking to reporters, Azad said Modi's emotional speech at his retirement was given a different twist by some "illiterate" Congressmen and their emotions expressed in the House were about the tragedy and not for each other.
"I assumed that Modi sahab was a crude man as he did not have children or his own family... and would not care but at least he has shown humanity," he said and narrated the heartrending aftermath of the grenade explosion inside the Gujarat tourist bus.
"When the chief minister of Gujarat called, I was crying loudly. He heard me crying and he was told that I cannot talk right now and have to treat those who are injured." "When I talked to the chief minister to ask for two planes, one for the dead and the other for the injured and I again cried... he (Modi) turned emotional while referring to my state," Azad said.
Recalling Modi's tears in the Rajya Sabha, Azad said he also broke down when the prime minister spoke about the tragic incident and his response. Taking a swipe at Rahul Gandhi, he said it was Rahul who hugged Modi in Parliament not him.
Asked about Congress' criticism, Azad said Modi is merely an excuse and they were riled ever since he and 22 other Congressmen wrote to Sonia Gandhi in August 2020, challenging their way of functioning. He was referring to the letter sent by the G-23 dissident group seeking large-scale reforms in the party.
Azad alleged that he has been "forced to leave my home" as they were not heard. "After that letter, there have been many meetings and we put forth our views before Sonia Gandhi but none of our suggestions were implemented," he said.
Azad said that he did not sleep for six days before and after writing the G-23 letter because "we gave blood for the party".He said his respect for Sonia Gandhi is the same as it was 30 years ago and it is the same for Rahul Gandhi as he belongs to the family of Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi.
Hitting back at Azad for his criticism, Congress general secretary in-charge communications Jairam Ramesh said, "After such a long career, courtesy entirely the party he's been tasked to slander, by giving interviews indiscriminately, Mr. Azad diminishes himself further."
"What’s he afraid of that he's justifying his treachery every minute? He can be easily exposed but why stoop to his level?" he said on Twitter on Monday.
(With PTI Inputs)