NEW DELHI/SURAT: Congress suspended Mani Shankar Aiyar on Thursday after the former Union minister stoked yet another acrimonious row by describing Prime Minister Narendra Modi as a “neech aadmi”+ .
Aiyar’s choice of words not only drew a ferocious attack from Modi in Surat but riled his own party functionaries who feared potential damage to its electoral prospects due to the diplomat-turned-politician’s foot-in-the-mouth penchant. “He (Modi) is neech kism ka aadmi who has no sabhyata (civility),” Aiyar had said earlier in the day after Modi accused Congress of using Dalit icon B R Ambedkar merely to get votes and trying to erase his contribution in building India.
Addressing an election rally in Surat, Modi hit back at Aiyar and said dejected Congress functionaries had lost their mental balance and crossed all limits of decency. “Mani Shankar Aiyar has called me neech and from nichli jaati (lower caste). Is this not an insult to Gujarat? Is it not an insult to India’s great values? But people of Gujarat will take revenge on December 18 and teach you the precise meaning of neech,” Modi said.
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The PM said Aiyar’s remarks smacked of Congress’s “Mughal mindset” that discriminated between the lower and upper castes. “I, as chief minister of Gujarat for 14 years and now as PM, have done nothing that has forced citizens to hang their heads in shame. If Congress feels that working for the poor and distressed is something too low, I can only wish them good luck,” he said amid chants of “Modi Modi”.
The PM even recalled Congress chief Sonia Gandhi’s 10-year-old “maut ka saudagar” remark against him as he accused the rival of constantly insulting and conspiring against him. “Despite so many insults, I have not been vindictive as PM and BJP will always work to uphold the values of public life,” he said.