Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar calling Prime Minister a ‘neech aadmi’ triggered a political storm on the last day of the Gujarat poll campaign. While Modi retorted Aiyar by saying it only relects his Mugalai mindset, many politicians including Congress vice president rebuked Aiyar for his remark. Though Aiyar apaologised for his remark after facing backlash, it is believed that statement might go in BJP’s favour in the Gujarat elections.
This comes days after Aiyar gave reference of succession to Mughal kings by their sons to justify Rahul Gandhi’s impending elevation as Congress president. Modi seized on his Mughal reference to liken Gandhi’s elevation to “Aurangzeb raaj” and put the Congress on back foot.
But this is not the first time Aiyar has caused embarrassment to his party with his statement. Many believe that Aiyar’s ‘chai-wala’ barb at Modi during the 2014 Lok Sabha polls helped the then BJP prime ministerial candidate a great deal as he often referred to it in his campaign to highlight his humble background and attack the Congress.
Aiyar had then claimed that Modi can never become prime minister but could sell tea at a Congress conclave, which was then underway.
Back in 1998, Aiyar, who described himself as a ‘freelance Congressman’ had called the then prime minister and BJP stalwart Atal Bihari Vajpayee ‘nalayak’ (a pejorative Hindi
word loosely translated as incompetent). The backlash followed by his comment forced him to apologise.
Aiyar once called terror outfit LeT founder Hafiz Saeed as “Hafiz saab”. He suggested in an interview on a Pakistani TV channel that peace between India and Pakistan can happen
only when the Modi government falls and asked the neighbouring country to help topple the BJP dispensation.
Even his own party colleague Ajay Maken, then a minister in the UPA government, was not spared of his scorn in 2011 as Aiyar poked fun at him over his letter, saying a “BA pass”
from Hansraj college in Delhi cannot use a word like “dichotomous”.
Aiyar hit back at Maken, the then sports minister, for accusing him of playing a part in the cost escalation of Commonwealth Games projects and also questioned the
authenticity of the letter he had written to the prime minister in which he made the allegations.
Aiyar, a former sports minister himself, said Maken was not qualified enough to write such a letter to the prime minister. “… It contains words like ‘dichotomous’ which I
cannot believe that a BA Pass from Hansraj College would know,” he said.
(With PTI inputs)