New Delhi: In a sharp counter-offensive on Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his "conspiracy with Pakistaninfo-icon" remark, former premier Manmohan Singh on Monday said he was setting a "dangerous precedent" with his "ill-thought transgression" and asked him to apologise to the nation.

In a strongly-worded statement, Dr Singh rejected as "innuendos and falsehoods" Mr Modi's comments, saying he did not discuss the Gujarat Assembly electionsinfo-icon with anyone at the dinner hosted by Mani Shankar Aiyar for Pakistan's former foreign minister Kurshid Kasuri here.

"I sincerely hope that the Prime Minister will show the maturity and gravitas expected of the high office he holds instead of concentrating his energy solely on erroneously conceived brownie points.

"I sincerely hope that he will apologise to the nation for his ill-thought transgression to restore the dignity of the office he occupies," he said. Dr Singh said he was "deeply pained and anguished" by the "falsehood and canards" being spread to score political points by the PM.

"Fearing imminent defeat in Gujarat, desperation of the Prime Minister to hurl every abuseinfo-icon and latch on to every straw is palpable. Sadly and regrettably, Shri Modi is setting a dangerous precedent by his insatiable desire to tarnish every constitutional office, including that of a former Prime Minister and Armyinfo-icon Chief," he alleged. Addressing an election rally in Palanpur in Gujarat on Tuesday, Mr Modi suggested that Pakistan was trying to influence the Assembly polls in the state.

He claimed that some Pakistani officials and Manmohan Singh met at Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar's house over dinner on December 6. This was a day before Aiyar's "neech" jibe against Modi that led to his suspension.