BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi Wednesday accused the Congress and the Gandhi family of denying the coveted post of prime minister to Pranab Mukherjee twice - in 1984 and 2004 - despite his qualifications.
Modi said that in 1984, after the assassination of then prime minister Indira Gandhi, Mukherjee should have been made prime minister as he was the senior most member of the cabinet.
"When Indiraji was killed, Rajiv Gandhi was in Kolkata. Democracy entails that the senior most minister (Mukherjee) should be the prime minister in such situations. It would have been better if Pranabji had been given the chance to become the prime minister that day. They didn't give him that opportunity," Modi said addressing a rally here.
Rajiv Gandhi succeeded his mother Indira in the top office.
"Not only that, this family (the Gandhi clan) thought something was going on ... and when the next government came (Rajiv Gandhi as prime minister), the seniormost minister Pranabji was not even included in the cabinet. Don't forget all this," Modi said, in an apparent attempt to whip up Bengali sentiments.
Mukherjee, a leader from Bengal, did not find place in the ministry after Rajiv Gandhi led the Congress to a landslide victory in the 1984 general elections.
Referring to the formation of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government in 2004, Modi accused Congress president Sonia Gandhi of again overlooking Mukherjee's claim for the job.
"In 2004, he was the senior most leader of the Congress. And if Sonia Gandhi didn't want to become the prime minister herself, the opportunity should have been given to Pranabji. but Manmohan Singh was made prime minister," he added.
Sonia Gandhi had announced she would not become prime minister after the BJP threatened an agitation because of her foreign origin. She instead backed Manmohan Singh.