A day after being suspended from the Congress, Mani Shankar Aiyar said on 8 December that he would accept any punishment if the party’s prospects in the Gujarat Assembly elections are affected by his “neech aadmi" remark against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Aiyar told PTI:
If the Congress has suffered any damage because of what I have said, then I deeply regret it... Aur agar party ko election mein kuchh bhi nuksan hota hai, to jo bhi uchit dand Congress party dena chahe wo de sakte hain (And if the Congress suffers any damage in the polls due to my comments, then I will accept whatever punishment the party deems fit).
Aiyar said asserted that the Congress was doing well in Gujarat under the leadership of Rahul Gandhi. His comments come a day after he was suspended from the party over his “neech aadmi” remark. Congress also issued a show cause notice to the leader.
On 7 December, Aiyar called PM Narendra Modi a “neech kism ka insaan (a lowly person)”. Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi promptly distanced himself – and the party – from the remark, saying that he expects Aiyar to apologise to Modi.
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.— Office of RG (@OfficeOfRG) December 7, 2017
Aiyar, a former cabinet minister, later told reporters that he didn’t mean to use the word “neech”. He claimed his comment had been lost in translation because his Hindi is “poor”.
The senior Congress leader had earlier said:
Yeh aadmi bohot neech kisam ka aadmi hai. Isme koi sabhyata nahi hai. Aur aise mauke par is tarah ki gandi rajneeti ka kya avashyakta hai?
#WATCH: "Ye aadmi bahut neech kisam ka aadmi hai, is mein koi sabhyata nahi hai, aur aise mauke par is kisam ki gandi rajniti karne ki kya avashyakta hai?: Congress' Mani Shankar Aiyar on PM Modi pic.twitter.com/sNXeo6a1Gi— ANI (@ANI) December 7, 2017
“Why was PM taking a jibe at Congress and Rahul Gandhi at the inauguration of a Centre on Baba Saheb Ambedkar? Everyday, the PM is using foul language against our leaders. I am a freelance Congressi, I hold no post in the party, so I can reply to PM in his language,” Aiyar later told reporters.
Mani Shankar AiyarI meant low level when I said ‘neech.’ I think in English when I speak in Hindi as Hindi is not my mother tongue. So if it has some other meaning, then I apologise.
Responding to questions on his infamous “chai wallah” remark against Modi before the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Aiyar said: “I never called Mr Modi a ‘chai wallah’. You can go on the internet and check all the videos.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his address at a rally in Surat on 7 December, said that the “language used by Congress leaders” is unacceptable in a democracy. He also said that Aiyar’s remark was the outcome of a “Mughlai mindset”.
Narendra ModiOne Congress leader, who has studied in best institutions, served as a diplomat, was a minister in Cabinet, he said Modi is “neech”. This is insulting. This is nothing but a Mughalai mindset.
“What all have they called us – donkeys, neech, gandi naali ke keede... the people of Gujarat will give a fitting answer to such deplorable language,” Modi told the audience in Surat.
Commenting on Aiyar’s subsequent suspension from the party, BJP leader and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said it was a ‘strategic move’.
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— Arun Jaitley (@arunjaitley) December 7, 2017
Criticising Aiyar, Jaitley said: “Mani Shankar Aiyar is a serial offender. You give false facts on inflation and then retract. If you’re unsure of facts and statements, then you’re unfit for public life.”
(With inputs from ANI)
(This is a developing story)
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