A controversy erupted over a claim that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange endorsed Narendra Modi as "incorruptible" even as the whistle-blower website disclosed a secret cable by a senior US diplomat eight years ago that described him as a "distrustful person" who reigns more by "fear and intimidation".
The website while denying in a series of tweets that it had called the Gujarat Chief Minister "incorruptible" tweeted details of a number of observations made by the then Mumbai-based Consul General Michael S Owen on Modi's leadership in a cable after his visit to the state in 2006.
"No WikiLeaks document say #Modi is 'incorruptable', rather he is popular because 'viewed' as 'incorruptable'," WikiLeaks said.
Wikileaks said the term "incorruptible" was apparently used by a Gujarat Congress leader Manoharsinh Jadeja.
"The Narendra #Modi "incorruptable" quote comes from Rajkot Congress party leader Manoharsinh Jadeja," it said.
In another tweet, WikiLeaks accused BJP of using the "fake Assange-Modi endorsement" to raise funds.
The website today accused Priti Gandhi, Co-Convener of Maharashtra BJP Communication Cell, of pushing the "fake endorsement" by WikiLeaks.
Its clarification came against the backdrop of some BJP supporters circulating posters in Ahmedabad quoting Assange, saying that "America is scared of Modi because he is incorruptible."
BJP, however, downplayed the WikiLeaks tweets. "We don't need a certificate from WikiLeaks or Assange on Modiji," BJP leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi had said.
WikiLeaks went on to tweet a secret cable sent by the US Embassy in 2006 which criticised Modi's style of functioning.
"Views remain divided on whether Modi's leadership style will help or harm him if he enters national politics. In public, Modi can be charming and likable.
By all accounts, however, he is an insular, distrustful person... He reigns more by fear and intimidation than by inclusiveness and consensus, and is rude, condescending and often derogatory to even high level party officials. He hoards power...," one such diplomatic cable under a sub-heading "Modi's Leadership Style" said.
The US Consulate, however, added that all of its interlocutors acknowledged that Modi is a modest man "who, unlike many elected officials in India, has not used his position to enrich himself or his family".
"Most contacts also say that he has purged the state administration of petty corruption at the mid and lower levels of the bureaucracy. However, several people tell us that big ticket corruption is still common," it added.
The secret cable following Owen's visit also stated that the US Embassy in Delhi had cleared the document.