New Delhi: Incensed at Narendra Modi's remark in Canada about "scam India" that he claimed inheriting as prime minister, the Congress on Friday hit back at him for making an apparent jibe at its UPA government on foreign soil.
[Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper in a file photo.]
Congress warned that such "false claims" if made again off shores will be instantly countered by a designated party spokesperson in the same country.
Party spokesperson Anand Sharma said: "The prime minister portrayed India in poor light and earned a dubious distinction of belittling the predecessors and maligning the opposition."
"He (Modi) must be reminded that he was on a state visit abroad as the prime minister of this country and not as a spokesperson of the (ruling) Bharatiya Janata Party," he added.
Sharma, a former union cabinet minister in the United Progressive Alliance regime, said if the prime minister continued to make "false claims on the foreign soil, we would not tolerate".
"We will depute a Congress spokesperson who would be present in the same country as the prime minister to counter such claims," he remarked.
The Congress also took "strong objection" to Narendra Modi's claim of being the first Indian prime minister in 42 years to visit Canada, reminding him of ex-prime minister Manmohan Singh's state visit there in 2010.
Sharma noted that former prime minster Manmohan Singh had paid an official three-day visit at the invitation of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper in June, 2010.
"On (Stephen) Harper's invitation, Manmohan Singh went to Canada in 2010. It was a state visit, and the two released a joint statement after their bilateral engagements," Sharma told reporters here while flashing a copy of the joint communique.
Released on June 27, 2010, the joint statement on Manmohan Singh's visit said: "...Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited Canada at the invitation of Prime Minister Stephen Harper. During his visit, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh participated in G20 Toronto Summit and held bilateral discussions with Prime Minister Stephen Harper."
Reiterating his previous stand, Sharma deplored the "scam India" remark, saying Modi must be reminded that he inherited a "vibrant India" with a "strong economy of over 2.1 trillion dollars and foreign exchange reserve of 310 billion dollars.
Sharma said India is not a country that ever begged for help, as remarked by the prime minister in Germany, but rather sought to extend help to other nations in need.
Charging that Modi had "lowered the dignity of the prime minster's office and "insulted the nation with his "unceremonious conduct on a foreign soil, the Congress said he must "apologise" to the people of this country.
"He owes multiple apologies to the nation for his conduct and utterances. He is belittling the achievements of the great country and also breaking a well established time-honoured convention not to take domestic political propaganda abroad," Sharma told reporters here.
During the last leg of his three-nation visit, Modi, said in his address in Toronto "Jinko gandagi karni thi, woh gandagi kar ke chaley gaye, par hum safai karenge (Those who had to create a mess they have done so and left. But we will clean it up).
Modi further said that he would work on transforming India's image of a "scam" country to that of a "skilled" nation.