PM Narendra Modi, Ghulam Nabi Azad | Photo: PTI
New Delhi: Meeting and talking to political rivals does not change one's DNA, veteran leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said on Saturday in a swipe at the Congress which had insinuated that he was cozying up to Prime Minister Narendra Modi after he left the party.
After Azad ended his five-decade-long association with the Congress last month, the party had alleged that his "DNA has been Modi-fied" and several leaders attacked him citing Modi's speech in Rajya Sabha in February last year in which the teary-eyed prime minister had praised Azad as a "true friend".
"MPs from 22 parties spoke about me (on my farewell) but only what the PM said was highlighted," Azad said at a book release function here.
"If you meet people from other political parties and talk to them, it does not change your DNA," he said and lamented that political parties nowadays seem to be "at war".
Referring to Modi's emotional speech, Azad said it's a tradition that one-third members retire from Rajya Sabha every two years and MPs from various parties give speeches on the occasion.
He further said the composite culture of India has changed over the years.
"Hindus and Muslims stayed together.... It was not unusual for Hindus to study Arabic and Muslims to study the Gita. This was our country's composite culture," he said.
Earlier, only two occasions were celebrated in Delhi's political circles -- Eid Milan and Diwali Milan -- he said.
"Both (former prime ministers Atal Bihari) Vajpayee-ji and Indira Gandhi used to come. Now political parties are like they are at war...," he said.
"Unfortunately we all have been divided and it is saddening," he said at the launch of the book, 'Moon of the Saffron Fields - The Legend of Habba Khatoon' by Padma Shri awardee Pran Kishore.
Azad, 73, resigned from the Congress on August 26, terming the party "comprehensively destroyed". He also lashed out at Rahul Gandhi for "demolishing" the party's entire consultative mechanism.
He is set to begin his fresh political journey Sunday from Jammu where he will set up the first unit of his own party.