Ahmedabad: Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi has said that he will apologise if his allegations against UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi turn out to be wrong. Dismissing his earlier version, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader said that whatever he said about the expenditure of Sonia Gandhi during her foreign trip for her treatment was on the basis of a newspaper article.
He said, "If these turn out to be wrong, I will apologise. Whatever I said was on the basis of a newspaper article."
Modi, who had on the basis of an RTI plea alleged that as much as Rs 1880 crore were spent from the public money on the treatment of the Congress president abroad, went on the backfoot after RTI activist Ramesh Verma of Hisar questioned his claims.
Dismissing his earlier version, Modi said that whatever he claimed about Sonia\'s visits was on the basis of a newspaper article.
In an exclusive interview to CNN-IBN, the Gujarat strongman had attacked the UPA chairperson, accusing her of wasting the public money over her foreign trips. Demanding an explanation from her, Modi had alleged that around Rs 1880 crore was spent by Sonia during her treatment.
However, hours later, the RTI activist from Hisar questioned his claims saying he never got any information about such amount of money spent on the treatment and even said that he was never contacted over the issue by the Gujarat Chief Minister. The RTI activist went on to say that his plea was just about foreign visits of the Congress president and not her treatment.
"I never got any information from the RTI that I filed…I don't know where Narendra Modi got this information from," said Verma. Speaking to CNN-IBN, the activist further claimed that he was never contacted by Modi.
"I can say for sure that I never got any information of Rs 1880 crore…I only asked for details of foreign trips of Sonia." said the activist, adding that the only information he got was about the expenditure of Rs 80-85 lakh.
Earlier, the Gujarat Chief Minister, speaking to CNN-IBN, had said, "A large amount of money has been spent in the short span of three years. An amount of Rs 1880 crore, almost Rs 2000 crore, were spent. And I am not quoting media reports here. This has been revealed by an RTI plea."
Reacting to the statement from the RTI activist, the Congress hit out at Narendra Modi saying he had lied to the people of Gujarat and the people of the country. Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said, "It is unfortunate and regrettable, he should apologies and withdraw the statement he made."
The Congress dismissed as "falsehood" and "irresponsible" the Gujarat Chief Minister's allegation that Rs 1880 crore were spent from the public exchequer on Sonia Gandhi's foreign trips.
Reminding Modi of a complaint made by Congress MPs before the Chief Vigilance Commissioner about alleged scams worth Rs 1 lakh crore during Modi's tenure, Tewari said "those living in glass houses do not pelt stones on others".
The Congress dared Modi to face a court-monitored investigation into the allegations.
Earlier, speaking to CNN-IBN, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader further explained that even as he was in favour of development, he was strongly opposed to foreign direct investment (FDI) in retail. Modi asserted that according to him, sacrificing the small traders of India would not improve the economy of the country.
Relating his stand to that of US President Barack Obama, Modi said, "People consider America and Obama forward looking. And yet, Obama has tweeted asking Americans to support small businesses and avoid malls."
Continuing his attack on the UPA government, the BJP leader accused it of misusing the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) when in trouble. Modi said, "Whenever the Centre is in trouble, the CBI is misused and political parties are targeted to garner votes," pointing that even the Supreme Court had also passed harsh strictures against the investigating agency.
When asked about his prime ministerial ambitions and a vocal opposition to it from Bihar Chief Minister and NDA ally Nitish Kumar, Modi claimed that he was concerned only about Gujarat and its future. While skirting the question on his position after the Lok Sabha elections in 2014 if his party had the numbers, Modi said that his focus would continue to remain on Gujarat.
"I am only concerned about Gujarat and its future. In the Assembly elections, my focus will continue to remain on Gujarat," said the BJP strongman.
Later, answering a question on whether his former home minister Amit Shah, an accused in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case who has returned to Gujarat following relief from a court, would get a ticket in the Assembly elections, Modi remained evasive it was not his call.
"I do not decide who contests elections. This decision is taken by the BJP central parliamentary board and they have not discussed anything with us yet," said the Gujarat Chief Minister.
(With Additional Inputs from PTI)