New Delhi, Dec 7 (UNI) Unfazed by the snowballing controversy over his election speech wherein he allegedly justified the killing of Sohrabuddin Sheikh in a fake police encounter, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi today said it was ''just a political issue for me'' and challenged the Congress to have a debate on terrorism.
Talking to CNN during his campaign trail at Dakor in Kheda district of Gujarat, a defiant Modi maintained that ''Sohrabuddin Sheikh encounter is just a political issue'' for him and he would not back off on it.
He also clarified that there was no ego battle between him and Congress President Sonia Gandhi.
The chief minister, however, cautioned Mrs Gandhi that he would be forced to react if she attacked him.
''I have nothing personal against Sonia Gandhi. Congress is fighting the polls in the name of Sonia Gandhi. Naturally, I will have to attack her as she is fighting with me,'' he said.
Strongly defending his speech on the encounter issue, he hit back at the Congress for running away from a debate on terrorism.
He also said he would give a ''proper response'' to the Election Commission's notice on the Sohrabuddin speech.
''There are many issues in this poll. Not just Sohrabuddin. For me it is just one of the issues,'' he said.
Mocking at his critics, Mr Modi said, ''These pseudo-secularists are attacking me just for self-promotion and publicity. They are all bunch of liars.'' He alleged that the Congress is scared of talking about terrorism and its impact on the country. ''I will continue to talk about terrorism because the Congress does not have the guts to raise the issue.
''The entire nation is in the grip of terrorism, but the Congress is not talking against it. Somebody has to talk. I am talking,'' he said.
He also ridiculed the Congress for not having a chief ministerial candidate and wondered how such a party hoped to defeat him.
Asked about his detractor and predecessor Kesubhai Patel's support to the BJP rebels, Mr Modi refused to make any comment.