Soon after ailing Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar accused Rahul Gandhi of using his courtesy visit to him for 'petty political gains', the Congress president on Wednesday evening issued a hard hitting rebuttal. Rahul Gandhi, in his letter, said he 'empathized' with Parrikar who wrote the letter earlier in the day under 'pressure from the PM'.
"Parrikar Ji, I empathise with your situation. I understand the immense pressure you are under after our meeting yesterday. Pressure that forced you to take unusual step of demonstrating your loyalty to PM and his cronies by attacking me in uncharacteristic manner," Rahul Gandhi said.
Congress President Rahul Gandhi meets Manohar Parrikar hours after attacking Goa CM over Rafale deal
Describing his visit to Parrikar as 'strictly personal', Rahul Gandhi stressed that he never shared the details of his conversation with the Goa CM.
"I have not shared any details of my conversation with you when we met in Goa yesterday. In my two speeches since we met, I have referred to what is already in the public domain," Rahul Gandhi said.
"My visit to you was strictly personal and driven purely by my empathy for your situation. You will no doubt recall that I also called you when you were undergoing treatment in the United States to enquire after your health and wish you well," he added.
What Rahul Gandhi had said
Hours after meeting Parrikar at the Goa Assembly complex in Panaji on Tuesday, Gandhi had told Congress workers in Kochi that the former defence minister had told him that he had nothing to do with the Rafale fighter jet deal.
"Friends, the ex-defence minister Mr Parrikar clearly stated that he has nothing to do with the new deal that was orchestrated by Mr Narendra Modi to benefit Anil Ambani," he had said.
In his letter, Parrikar asked Rahul Gandhi not to use his visit to an ailing person to "feed political opportunism", saying that paying a courtesy visit and then stooping so low to make a false statement for petty political gains has raised in his mind questions about sincerity and purpose of the visit.
He said he felt let down that Gandhi used this visit for his petty political gains as the five minutes they spent together, neither did the Congress president said anything about Rafale nor did they discuss anything related to it.
"Here I am fighting against a life-threatening illness. Due to my training and ideological strength, I wish to serve Goa and its people against any/all odds. I thought your visit would give me your good wishes in that cause of serving our people. Little did I know that you had other intentions," Parrikar wrote.
Asking Gandhi to put forth the truth about their visit, he said, "Kindly do no use your visit to an ailing person to feed political opportunism."
WATCH: Manohar Parrikar, Rahul Gandhi engage in war of words
(With inputs from PTI)