Surat/New Delhi: Mani Shankar Aiyar on Thursday triggered another storm calling Narendra Modi a “neech aadmi”, while the prime minister said describing him as “neech jaati” was an insult to Gujaratis who will vote out the Congress in the state assembly elections.
In a quick damage control exercise, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi deprecated Aiyar’s language against the prime minister and asked him to apologize which the former union minister did, claiming his knowledge of Hindi was not good.
He also maintained that he never called Modi a “low born”. As Aiyar’s remarks that Modi was a “neech aadmi” (low man) in the context of his criticism of the Congress vis-a-vis B R Ambedkar snowballed, the prime minister referred to it in an election meeting in Surat and attacked the Congress leader, saying he called him a “neech jaati” (low caste).
“They can call me ‘neech jaati’. Yes, I am from the poor section of society and will spend every moment of my life to work for the poor, Dalits, tribals and backward classes. That is my culture. They can keep their language, we will do our work,” Modi told an election rally here.
Modi said Aiyar came from a good family, has a number of university degrees, was a diplomat for a number of years and remained a minister in the Manmohan Singh government, but was resorting to such insults.
“This is an insult to Gujarat. Not just to Gujarat but to the entire nation.”
He said Aiyar was speaking out of the “Mughlai mindset” that “sees everyone as ‘neech’”.
The Congress leaders are speaking in a language that is not acceptable in democracy.
“We have seen enough insults from them. They insulted me when I was the chief minister. But our value system is strong. We have nothing to say to such elements. Our answer will come through the ballot box.
“I appeal to all BJP activists not to retort. But answer them on December 9 and 14 (voting days). My people should not lower their standards. We will teach them a lesson. Voting results would mean what low caste means when everyone votes for the BJP. ”
As the row became an embarrassment for the Congress, Rahul Gandhi took to Twitter to disapprove of Aiyar’s language.
“The BJP and the prime minister 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 Mani Shankar Aiyar to address the prime minister. Both the Congress and I expect him to apologize for what he said,” Gandhi said.
Reporters got around to Aiyar at a function in Delhi’s WWF Auditorium Hall and asked him about Modi’s attack and Gandhi’s suggestion to him to apologize.
“Yes, I used the word ‘neech’. Now, I am not a Hindi speaker and I translate from English to Hindi. So I used ‘low person’, I translated ‘low’ in my mind.If it happened to mean something else. I apologize.’ Neech’ as I understand is a direct translation of ‘low’.
“I never meant ‘low born’. — IANS