Cong suspends Aiyar after he calls PM 'neech' ahead of Guj vote
The Congress tonight suspended the primary membership of Mani Shankar Aiyar after the Gandhi family loyalist set off a firestorm by calling Prime Minister Narendra Modi "neech aadmi" (a vile person), remarks fraught with adverse consequences for the party in poll-bound Gujarat.
In an apparent move to contain the possible damage barely two days ahead of the keenly contested Assembly elections in the prime minister's home state, the Congress announced disciplinary action against Aiyar, insisting it showed the party's "Gandhian leadership".
"The Congress party has served a show cause notice to Mani Shankar Aiyar and suspended him from the primary membership of the party," Congress's communications department incharge Randeep Surjewala said.
"This is Congress' Gandhian leadership and respect for its political rivals....Will Modi ji display such courage?," he asked.
"He (Modi) is 'neech kism ka aadmi' (a vile man) who has no 'sabhyata' (civility)," Aiyar said earlier today in an ill-timed comment, attacking Modi after the latter accused the Congress of seeking votes in B R Ambedkar's name but trying to erase his contribution to nation building.
An apparently rattled Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, who is set to assume the reins of the party from his mother Sonia Gandhi midway through the Gujarat elections, admonished Aiyar through Twitter and virtually instructed him to tender apology.
"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 said on Twitter.
A chastised Aiyar did proffer a conditional apology, but that did not apparently smooth the ruffled feathers of the troubled Congress leadership which suspended his primary membership to contain the possible damage his comment might cause in Gujarat elections.
Modi, the seasoned campaigner, quickly lapped up Aiyar's comment to launch a scalding attack on the Congress leader and his party, claiming the remark was a casteist slur against him.
"Shriman (Mr) Mani Shankar Aiyar today said that Modi is of 'neech' (lower) caste and is 'neech' (vile). Is this not an insult to Gujarat?
"You called us donkey, you called us 'gandi nali ka keeda' (worm of a dirty drain), you called us 'maut ka saudagar' (merchant of death), you said I am of 'neech jaati' (lower caste man) and 'neech'. But we will live according to our 'sanskars' (values)," Modi said, launching an onslaught against Congress leaders who called him names in the past.
"This is a Mughal mentality where if such a person (who comes from a humble background) wears good clothes in a village, they have a problem," he said.
After the rebuke by the Congress leadership, Aiyar, known for making off-the-cuff remarks against political rivals that often embarrassed his party, was soon on national television proffering clarification, insisting it was because of his poor understanding of Hindi language that he used the word, and tendering apology.
"I am told that 'neech' has many meanings, many connotations in Hindi, and if Mr Modi chooses to distort it to claim that it means low born, then all I can do is to apologise for having used a word that could be interpreted as low born. But that was not my intention at all and certainly not a part of my culture.
"Therefore, for the misinterpretation that can be given to the word, I extend my apologies, particularly since it is going to harm the Congress party's interests in Gujarat," he said, in an open admission that his comment would have adverse consequences for the party.
When repeatedly asked if he was tendering apology for calling Modi 'neech', Aiyar said,"Do I apologise about the word 'low'? No. Do I apologise about the word that is translated which says 'low born'? Absolutely yes."
The Congress leader said he does not think Modi was low born "but the language...I would say is very low".
Reacting to Aiyar's suspension, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on Twitter: "Mani Shankar Aiyer’s ‘Neech’ - attack on Prime Minister- a deliberate casteist statement, a convenient apology, a strategic suspension. People should see through this game.
- IPL-Final: Chennai ride Watson ton to lift third IPL crown 27 May 2018 | IANS
- Kejriwal attacks LG, says don't create hurdles 27 May 2018 | PTI
- Chidambaram slams govt for 'celebrating' 4 years in office 27 May 2018 | PTI
- Iran's Foreign Minister meets Sushma tomorrow, expected to seek India's support to salvage N-deal 27 May 2018 | PTI
- Petrol prices rise for 14th straight day; cross Rs 78 mark in Delhi 27 May 2018 | IANS
- Inventors trying to 'rewrite' history: Ansari 27 May 2018 | PTI
- Cross border shelling: 5,500 bunkers, 200 community halls to be constructed along LoC 27 May 2018 | PTI
- J-K Police crackdowns on 'keypad jehadis' on social media 27 May 2018 | PTI
- Congress worships one family, can't respect democracy: Modi 27 May 2018 | IANS
- Modi ‚Äėcampaign PM'; BJP will 'definitely' not come to power in 2019: Chandrababu 27 May 2018 | PTI
Sunday EditionView All
27 May 2018 | PNS | New Delhi
The Nipah virus mystery deepened on Saturday as the samples collected from bats in Kerala’s Kozhikode and Malappuram districts, where 13 people have died of the infection, have tested negative for the virus. A report submitted by a central medical team to the Union Health Ministry also ruled out pigs to be the primary source of the virus...
STATE EDITIONSView All
28 May 2018 | PNS | New Delhi
Youth symposium at Gumla Vikash Bharti Bishunpur will organize youth symposium-2018 on May 28 at Gumla. The programme will be inaugurated by Chief Minister, Raghubar Das in the presence of other dignitaries...