Congress was showing its "utter desperation" by heaping praise on Atal Behari Vajpayee to attack Narendra Modi as it has been one of the worst critics of the former Prime Minister, BJP said on Friday and termed the ruling party's public appreciation as "not bona-fide".
The principal opposition party also said the attempt by Congress was aimed at downplaying its "imminent" defeat in the Lok Sabha elections.
"One notices with curiosity that Congress party is describing Atal Bihari Vajpayee as a great leader on its website when it is one of the worst critics of his performance as the Prime Minister of India and consciously downplays his exemplary performance of governance," BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad said.
He said, "This shows utter desperation. This public appreciation of Vajpayee is not very bona fide but trying to seek certain clutches to a Congress facing a very imminent defeat."
In the midst of a blistering poll campaign, the Congress today heaped praise on Vajpayee to attack Modi, questioning how a person whom the tallest leader of BJP "wanted removed" as Chief Minister in the wake of Gujarat riots can be the party's PM candidate.
Accusing the opposition party of distancing itself from the Vajpayee legacy, the Congress on its official website said, "There is nobody to remind BJP of its Rajdharma".
"How can a person whom the tallest leader of the BJP wanted removed as chief minister, be the party's Prime Ministerial candidate?," Congress, which also a posted a picture of Vajpayee on its website, said.
"Having found a new icon in Modi, the BJP is working hard to distance itself from the Vajpayee legacy," the party charged, while citing the example of Vajpayee's niece quitting the party and joining the Congress instead.
The Congress asserted that no leader in BJP can match the stature of Vajpayee, the founding president of the party and the Prime Minister from 1998 until the NDA was defeated by the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance in 2004.
Vajpayee has been unwell for quite some time and has been away from politics. This is also for the first time perhaps that the Congress has drawn so heavily on the statements and actions of Vajpayee to target Modi.