Congress suspends Aiyar for comments about Modi

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Congress suspends Aiyar for comments about Modi

NEW DELHI: Senior Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar was suspended on Thursday from the primary membership of the party for calling Prime Minister Narendra Modi a “neech aadmi” (a vile man), a remark that Mr Modi said was aimed at his humble origins, NDTV said.

Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi had pulled up Mr Aiyar during the day and asked him to apologise, a move that was seen as an attempt to cap the political fallout of the controversial remarks in the first phase of Assembly elections in Gujarat.

The BJP and PM Modi, who was campaigning in Gujarat, had invoked Mr Aiyar’s remarks to target the Congress through the day. “Gujarat will reply,” he said, calling the remark an example of the Congress’ “Mughal values that teach to demean castes and talk about upper and lower castes.”

But as it sought to disassociate itself from Mr Aiyar and his remarks, the Congress also dared the BJP and PM Modi. “This is the Congress leadership’s Gandhian philosophy and a sense of respect towards the opposition,” Congress communications in-charge Rajdeep Surjewala tweeted, questioning if PM Modi would have “courage to do something similar”.

Rahul Gandhi had earlier publicly rebuked Mr Aiyar, saying he did not appreciate the tone and language used by Aiyar to address PM Modi. “Both the Congress and I expect him to apologise for what he said,” Rahul Gandhi said in a tweet.

Mr Aiyar did apologise for what he called 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 said.

Ahead of the 2014 national election also, Mani Shankar Aiyar had derided Narendra Modi as a tea seller who could never be Prime Minister.

That comment was seen to have contributed significantly to Mr Modi’s sweep of the general election, NDTV said.

Published in Dawn, December 8th, 2017

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