Narendra Modi, Manmohan Singh exchange greetings on 16th anniversary of Parliament attacks after bitter war of words

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Days after his bitter war of words during a meeting with Pakistani officials, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his predecessor Manmohan Singh greeted each other and shook hands Wednesday as parliamentarians gathered to pay tribute to the victims of the attack on Parliament in 2001

What was interpreted by many as an uncomfortable interaction happened to show one more day in Indian politics, as both leaders stepped forward and greeted each other, with the animosity of the Gujarat election campaign now behind them.

The eyebrows were raised in the confrontation between the acting prime minister and his predecessor during the Gujarat election campaign. Modi hinted that Singh was conspiring with Pakistan in the Gujarat polls. Singh responded by saying that Modi was setting a “dangerous precedent” and apologized to the nation, adding that he did not need any sermon on nationalism from a prime minister with “a committed record in the fight against terrorism.”

Meanwhile, the president-elect of the Congress, Rahul Gandhi, and the outgoing party president, Sonia Gandhi, were also present on the occasion of the 16th anniversary of the terrorist attack. They also met and greeted Modi and other BJP leaders at the event in Parliament.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Congress president-elect Rahul Gandhi during the tribute paying ceremony for the martyrs of 2001 Parliament attack. PTI

A smiling Rahul stepped forward and met with union ministers Sushma Swaraj and Ravi Shankar Prasad, who had been lashing out against the president-elect of Congress until Tuesday in the heat of the election campaign in Gujarat. Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu, President of Lok Sabha Sumitra Mahajan and Interior Minister Rajnath Singh were also present. Rahul also greeted veteran BJP leader LK Advani in Parliament.

The prime minister also paid tribute to the victims of the attack after the event.

President Ram Nath Kovind also recalled the “martyrs defending the Parliament from terrorists on this day 16 years ago.”

On this day, 16 years ago, five heavily armed gunmen stormed the Parliament complex firing indiscriminately and killing nine people. Among those killed were five members of the Delhi Police Force, a woman from the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) officer, two parliament watchers and neighborhood staff, and a gardener. A journalist, who was wounded, died later. The five terrorists were shot dead.

A year later, four defendants, including Afzal Guru, were arrested for the attack and were found guilty after a trial. Guru was hanged on February 9, 2013.