New Delhi: The Prime Minister's Office (PMO) and BJP president Amit Shah on Wednesday came out in support of Home Minister Rajnath Singh after he threatened to quit over charges of unexplained misconduct levelled against his son.
Upset over "rumours" that his son Pankaj Singh was not fielded in the coming assembly bye-elections in Uttar Pradesh due to alleged misconduct, Rajnath Singh said he would give up politics if any of the allegations were proven to be true.
An emotive minister said there were "rumours about me and my family" for 15-20 days. "I thought the rumours have no basis so (they) will settle down. However, I am seeing the rumours have only intensified.
"If any allegation, big or small, is prima facie proven against me or my family members, I will quit politics and sit at home," he told reporters here.
In no time, the PMO and Shah issued separate statements dismissing the reports as baseless and motivated. But it was not clear what exactly were the allegations.
The PMO said reports in recent weeks linking Modi's apparent displeasure over "the conduct of some union ministers and alleged misconduct of the home minister's son" were "plain lies".
"The reports are plain lies, motivated and constitute a malicious attempt at character assassination and tarnishing the image of the government," the statement said.
"Those indulging in such rumour-mongering are damaging the interest of the nation. These reports are strongly denied."
Shah said the conduct of all BJP ministers was of the highest level.
In a statement in Hindi, he said there were "baseless and imaginary rumours" regarding Rajnath Singh and his son.
"As the party president, I believe the conduct of all our ministers is of the highest standard, and such propaganda is baseless.
"As far as Rajnath Singh is concerned, he is one of our seniormost ministers... I strongly condemn the rumours and feel personally hurt by them."
Pankaj Singh, 36, is a second-time general secretary of the BJP in Uttar Pradesh.
He was reportedly keen on fighting the Lok Sabha polls from Ghaziabad which was vacated by his father, a former Uttar Pradesh chief minister and a former BJP president.
But the seat was allotted to former army chief V.K. Singh. Pankaj Singh then reportedly voiced his desire to fight the bye-election from Noida but didn't get the ticket.
Insiders say Rajnath Singh feels a ministerial colleague was to blame for the "rumours".
Asked if political rivalry was hurting him, he said: "I will say nothing."
The Congress took a jibe at the home minister.
"The Congress will like to know what allegation is Rajnathji and his son facing which are being denied," party leader Ajay Maken said.
"We also want to ask who (hurled) these allegations on the home minister since the Congress has not done so," he said.
Marxist leader Sitaram Yechury said the episode betrayed infighting in the BJP. "The infighting is quite evident."
Janata Dal-United chief Sharad Yadav came out in support of Rajnath Singh.
"He is a clean and honest politician. These allegations cannot be true, they are baseless," Yadav said.