Congress questioned the timing of Narendra Modi's expression of "pain" and "anguish" over 2002 Gujarat riots, accusing him of doing it as part of an "image makeover" before the Lok Sabha elections.
"This is just an attempt of an image makeover," party general secretary Ambika Soni told reporters here.
"I do not want to cast any aspersions...but the question does come up to my mind. 10-12 years is a long period in public life. There were moments when there was pressure on him to do so. But he never did it earlier. Why is he suddenly doing it just before Lok Sabha elections?
"Why after so many years, he has become so emotional not to leave any word in the dictionary to say all this?...Ask him why he did not express his pain and anguish earlier...It's a part of a strategy" before the elections, she said.
Soni was talking to the media after Congress President Sonia Gandhi hoisted the party flag at the AICC headquarters on the 128th Foundation Day of Indian National Congress.
In a 1,000-word blog containing his most detailed comments on the 2002 riots, Modi yesterday said that he felt "absolute emptiness" on witnessing such "inhumanity".
A day after a magistrate's court upheld a clean chit given to him by a Supreme Court-appointed probe panel in the massacre of 68 people in Gulberg Housing Society in Ahmadabad during the riots, Modi said he did not see the ruling as a personal victory or defeat.
Though she downplayed contentions of anti-Congress wave in the country, Soni said, "when people vote us out, we know we have to introspect why they did so.
She said whenever Congress weakens, the communal forces resurrects. "And whenever such forces raise their head, we rise to the occassion...We have learnt the lessons. Congress is borne out of struggle."