Finance Minister P. Chidambaram Monday launched a strong attack on Narendra Modi saying that the BJP prime ministerial candidate had "deep flaws" in his character and his remarks reflected "a dangerous trend" for democracy.
Talking to reporters at the Congress party office here, he also hit out at former finance minister Yashwant Sinha, saying many of the 18 questions put to him Sunday by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader were "puerile."
Chidambaram said with the kind of image-building being done, Modi was no longer only a prime ministerial candidate of BJP but the party was being supplanted by an individual "who is saying I will do it".
"This is dangerous trend. I am sure people of India will reflect (in vote for Lok Sabha elections)," he said.
Asked about a Ahmedabad court accepting a special investigation team's report concerning the Gujarat riots, Chidambaram said it was not proper to construe it as a clean chit to Modi as the matter has been challenged in high court.
The minister said there were sections of big business which were very "chummy" with Modi.
"His brand of liberalism is crony capitalism," Chidambaram said.
Asked if he could be Congress candidate against Modi in Varanasi, Chidambaram said he cannot speak Hindi. "(I am) sure Modi would not like to contest from Sivaganga either," he said, referring to his constituency in Tamil Nadu.
Referring to Modi's remarks about investigation against former Maharashtra chief minister Ashok Chavan in the Adarsh housing controversy, Chidambaram said the BJP leader's statement should be condemned.
"Is he (Modi) going to appoint himself as CBI director. I hope he will go after (people) in his own party," the minister said.
"There are deep flaws in his character. He can't resist such derogatory remarks. Such perverse characterisation."
Chidambaram alleged that Modi had deliberately referred to full name of former chief election commissioner J.M. Lyngdoh during an election campaign in Gujarat, had in the past referred to practitioners of Islamic faith as "we five, our twenty five" and made "dus numbri (derogatory)" insinuations by referring to residential address of Congress president Sonia Gandhi.
"Such a person aspires to be prime minster. I am ashamed...there are deep flaws in character of Narendra Modi," he said.
Chidambaram also took a dig at Sinha having been shifted to external affairs from finance in 2002 during the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance government.
"Yashwant Sinha is a distant memory for people of India. I hope he stays where he is... a distant memory," he said.