In a stark reminder to the days leading up to the 2014 elections, when Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar’s ‘chaiwala’ comment spun into a massive pro-Modi campaign, the former diplomat’s recent barb at PM Modi calling him a ‘neech aadmi’ has now earned him a suspension from the Congress.
After Congress VP Rahul Gandhi rebuked Aiyar for his comments, the party has now suspended him from his primary membership of the party.
“BJP and PM routinely use filthy language to attack the Congress party. The Congress has a different culture and heritage. I do not appreciate the tone and language used by Mr Mani Shankar Aiyer to address the PM. Both the Congress and I expect him to apologise for what he said,” Gandhi had tweeted.
While Aiyar called PM Modi a ‘neech kisam ka aadmi’ (literal translation is ‘low type of person’), “Mujhko lagta hai ki ye aadmi bahut neech kisam ka aadmi hai, isme koi sabhyata nahi hai, or aise mauke par is kisam ki gandi rajniti karne ki kya avashyakta hai?”
PM Modi responded to it in Surat by stating, “Shriman Mani Shankar Aiyar today said that Modi is of 'neech jaati' (low caste) and is 'neech'. Is this not an insult to Gujarat? This is an insult to the great legacy of India. This is born of Mughal mentality.”
Aiyar has however apologised since for his poor command of Hindi. "I meant low level when I said 'neech', I don't think he is low born...if it has some other meaning then I apologise," he told reporters.
"This is the Congress leadership's Gandhian philosophy and a sense of respect towards our rivals," Congress communications in-charge Rajdeep Surjewala tweeted following Gandhi’s actions, also asking if PM Modi would have the courage to do something similar.
The development comes as Rahul Gandhi is set to go to Gujarat on Friday for two days of campaigning for the second phase of polls, slated on December 14.