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Jul 16, 2013 at 04:13pm IST

Narendra Modi will gain popularity if Cong targets him: Yashwant Sinha

New Delhi: Bharatiya Janata Party Yashwant Sinha, who had reportedly warned his party over Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi's remarks, has now clarified his comments. Speaking to IBN18 Editor-in-Chief Rajdeep Sardesai, Yashwant said that the Congress's attack on Modi will benefit the BJP, but will divert attention from the issue of corruption and misgovernance."

He added that the Congress is trying to divert attention and the BJP should not fall into its trap. "The Congress is determined to bring the secular-communal debate to the centrestage, BJP should not fall into that trap," Yashwant said.

ALSO SEE Yashwant Sinha warns BJP over Modi's comments

He said that while all this will benefit the BJP, the economic issues are being sidelined in the battle. "BJP will gain from any polarisation that happens because of Modi. The more the Congress attacks Modi, the more popular Modi becomes. Issues of misgovernance and corruption should be brought to the fore in the coming elections. Economic issues are being sidelined in this battle," Yashwant said. "Congress is mistaken that it will get back to power with the secularism issue," he added.

Yashwant had earlier said that the more Modi speaks the attention gets diverted from Congress's misgovernance. "The Modi baiters have a clear game plan. The more he speaks. The more controversy he will create. The attention will shift from misgovernance and corruption to what happened more than 11 years ago in Gujarat. It will be a grave mistake to allow Congress change the agenda and force debate on its own terms," Yashwant had said.

ALSO SEE Congress says burqa of secularism better than nakedness of communalism

The Congress on Monday launched an all out counter-attack on Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi for being critical of the UPA government during his speech in Pune on Sunday. Responding to Modi's 'burqa' remark, Congress leader Ajay Maken said, "The burqa of secularism is better than the nakedness of communalism. Secularism unites the nation, communalism breaks the country."

Congress General Secretary Digvijaya Singh has hit out at Modi saying, "I want to know what is the definition of secularism according to Modiji. One religion, one culture, one nation is the definition of secularism according to the RSS and Advaniji. Modiji should clarify what is his definition of secularism."

ALSO SEE What's Modi's definition of secularism, asks Cong

Minister of State for Human Resources Shashi Tharoor also tweeted, "Modi says we 'hide behind the burqa of secularism". Preferable, surely, to the khaki shorts of intolerance & hatred that he now tries to hide?"

Modi had on Sunday said the government hides behind the veil of secularism whenever India faces any problem. "Congress always wears the burqa of secularism whenever they face problem. In the name of secularism, Congress government can't play with poor, teenagers and daughters of the country," Modi had said.

The Congress also once again attacked Modi for his 'puppy' remark. "IF KUTTE KA BACCHA - PUPPY comes under your car u hv 2 options cuddle & treat it or again crush it What would u call a man who does the latter (sic)," Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari tweeted.

Modi had sparked a controversy after, in an interview to Reuters, he claimed that he was innocent in the Gujarat riots and said "I would feel guilty only if I did something wrong". "While driving if a puppy comes under the wheel, will it be painful or not? Of course it is...I'm a human being. If something bad happens anywhere, it is natural to be sad," he added.