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Modi alleges Pakistan meddling in Gujarat elections, Foreign Office rebuffs claim

ISLAMABAD: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has claimed that the opposition Congress held a meeting with Pakistani officials to orchestrate Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) defeat in assembly polls in western state of Gujarat.

Hitting back at his claims, Pakistan on Monday said India should stop dragging it into its electoral battles.

The spokesperson for the Foreign Office, Dr Muhammad Faisal, tweeted: “India should stop dragging Pakistan into its electoral debate and win victories on own strength rather than fabricated conspiracies, which are utterly baseless and irresponsible.”

A day earlier, the Indian premier went on to claim that a meeting took place recently at Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar’s house which was attended by Pakistan’s high commissioner, its foreign minister, former PM Manmohan Singh and former Vice President Hamid Ansari.

“You people must have read the newspaper about the incident at Mani Shankar Aiyar’s house. It was an issue of hot debate in newspapers and media yesterday that a meeting between former Pakistan high commissioner, former minister of external affairs of Pakistan, former vice president Hamid Ansari and former PM Manmohan Singh was held at Mani Shankar Aiyar’s house. The meeting had run for three hours and the next day he called me “Neech” (low-born),” Modi was quoted by Indian media as saying.

“This is an issue of serious concern that when Pakistan has become a sensitive issue for the country, then what was the reason to hold a secret meeting with Pakistan when the polls are being held in Gujarat?” he questioned.

Modi has himself led the campaign to ensure that his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) retains power in his home state, as a combined opposition mounted the biggest challenge ahead of the general election in 2019.

Hindu-majority Gujarat is one of India’s richest and fastest growing states but also one of its most communally divided.

About 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, were killed after a wave of riots rocked Gujarat in 2002, when Modi was chief minister. A Supreme Court investigation found no case against Modi, who denied any wrongdoing.

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