Modi vs Mani

Aiyar's 2017 chaiwala moment: Modi tears into 'neech' remarks

Mani-Shankar-Aiyar (File) Mani Shankar Aiyar

If it was 'chaiwala' in 2014, it is neech aadmi in 2017: it seems Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar's jibes against Narendra Modi hurt the Grand Old Party at the most inopportune of times.

Leaders of the BJP, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi criticised Aiyar on Thursday after he reportedly referred to Modi as a 'cheap person.'

Speaking about Modi in Delhi, Aiyar said he was a 'bahut neech kisam ka aadmi.' He declared “He (Modi) is a very cheap person. He has no manners,” as he was responding to Modi's statements at the inauguration of the Bhimrao Ambedkar International Centre in Delhi. Modi had criticised the Congress' attitude to Ambedkar at the event.

Modi, who was campaigning in the Assembly elections in Gujarat, described Aiyar's statements as 'insulting all Gujaratis.' He said, “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.”

He added that Aiyar was speaking out of a 'Mughal' mindset that saw everyone as 'neech.' He appealed to BJP activists not to respond to Aiyar's comments, but said, “Answer them on December 9 and 14 (voting days).”

Gandhi criticised Aiyar's statements and said he and the Congress expected him to apologise.

Following the uproar, Aiyar tried to defend himself by saying that he was not fluent in Hindi. “I did not mean low born. I meant low mentality. I translated low as neech. If low means anything else, I apologise,” he said.

(With agency inputs)

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