Youth Congress meme on PM Narendra Modi’s ‘chaiwala’ past kicks up storm

Modi is seen telling the two leaders about the opposition's memes targeting him. He mispronounces the word as "mainmain". Trump corrects him, saying the word is pronounced as "meem", while May tells him to go and sell tea

By: PTI | New Delhi | Updated: November 22, 2017 11:00 am
PM Modi, Narendra Modi, Chaiwala Meme, Congress Chaiwala Meme, Youth Congress Chaiwala Meme, India News, Indian Express, Indian Express News The meme that unleashed a political firestorm contained photograph of Modi, US president Donald Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May engaged in a conversation

In a potentially self-damaging act ahead of the Gujarat polls, the Congress’ youth wing today circulated a meme about Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘chaiwala’ past, provoking a backlash from the BJP, and prompting a red-faced Congress to distance from it.

The meme that unleashed a political firestorm contained photograph of Modi, US president Donald Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May engaged in a conversation. Modi is seen telling the two leaders about the opposition’s memes targeting him. He mispronounces the word as “mainmain”. Trump corrects him, saying the word is pronounced as “meem”, while May tells him to go and sell tea.

Though the meme was removed soon after it was put out, the Congress faced a virtual fusillade from the BJP which excoriated the opposition party for targeting the prime minister over his humble background, and demanding an explanation whether the meme had the approval of the party leadership. “This blatantly classist and anti-poor Tweet by the Youth Congress shows their mindset towards India’s poor. Does Crown Prince @OfficeOfRG support this?,” Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani said in a tweet.

Union Ministers Ravi Shankar Prasad, J P Nadda and Piyush Goyal also hit out at the Congress over the post. The official Twitter handle of BJP chief Amit Shah retweeted all such posts put out by the ministers. “The arrogance of the Congress Party and shameful anti-poor stand gets exposed from the official twitter of the Youth Congress that a person born in poverty in the family of a tea vendor cannot become the Prime Minister. No lessons learnt. Insulting popular mandate.

“Madam Sonia Gandhi and Mr Rahul Gandhi do you still believe that only you have a divine right to rule India?” Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said in a series of tweets. He said the country expects the two leaders to respond to the meme which is “shameful and insulting” to poor, he said.

Moving in to contain the damage, Congress communications incharge Randeep Surjewala took to Twitter, saying “Congress strongly disapproves and rejects such humour through memes. Differences on policy and opinion aside, Congress culture imbibes respect for PM and all political opponents.”

An off the cuff remark by senior Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections that Modi can never become the prime minister, and that if he wants the party can give him a place at its convention to sell tea, had given the then BJP’s prime ministerial nominee a stick to beat the Congress with.

Rally after election rally, Modi targeted the Congress over Aiyar’s jibe to claim the then ruling party at the Centre was anti-poor. Modi was, in fact, so enthused by the response that he got from cheering crowds while calling himself a ‘chaiwala’ that he even launched a campaign ‘chai pe charcha’ to connect with voters.

Recalling the price the Congress paid for the swipe, National Conference chief and former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah said the tweet is in poor taste and dubbed it as a “political suicide” for the party. “What is about elements of the Congress party that commit political suicide with such amazing regularity? This tweet is in such poor taste,” he tweeted.

Union minister J P Nadda tweeted: “A tweet can be deleted but not the mentality which brands masses as ‘Cattle class’ and ‘Mango people’. They can’t fathom a ‘Chaiwala’ leading the nation. Gujarat Shall Answer!!.” Another union minister Piyush Goyal said, “Congress has once again displayed its anti-poor mindset through such tweets. Upcoming elections will be another reality check for them.”

Chastised, the Indian Youth Congress, apologised for the meme. “Although the handle @Yuvadesh is being run by youth volunteers and not by @iyc, we do not approve of such humour and apologise.

“Despite political differences with the BJP & having suffered everyday abuse from their leaders, we respect the Prime Minister & all political opponents,” Youth Congress chief Amarinder Singh Raja tweeted.

For all the latest India News, download Indian Express App

  1. S
    Nov 23, 2017 at 7:40 am
    Truth hurts ... Modi is the worst PM that India has had since independence , and by Modi's own admission he used to sell tea .... What ever Modi is good at he is good in lying aka jhumlas , and he does have a knack to win votes with jhumlas that befool bigots and young and impressionable minds
    1. B
      Nov 22, 2017 at 5:37 am
      so now you can not even call a clown is a clown,after all MORONJI is the biggest clown of the world and world is really laughing at this clown,he has made several overseas trip to invest in india,but the results are for everybody to see,foreign investment in india is lowest in last 2 years,so clown will remain a clown,or he like to be called feku,chaddi,mahamoorakh
      1. A
        Nov 22, 2017 at 5:22 am
        Sometimes one wonders if Congress is doing the right thing going on the backfoot. It may be the correct thing to do, owning up to your mistakes. But should it be done, when rabid hounds will bare their fangs to extract whatever pound of flesh they can? You're going to be bitten anyway, so why be defensive? There's something to learn from the BJP here. Don't always be apologetic, especially when your adversary doesn't play by the rules. See how Hardik Patel turned the tables. Modi has made no bones about the fact that he used to sell tea. Kapil Sharma in his show has often alluded to this and made jokes about it. If Modi wants to use his 'chaiwala' card to gain popularity by playing on emotions, he shouldn't be a cry-baby when others may use the same card to deride him. Is it elitist to call a doctor, a doctor an engineer, an engineer a scientist, a scientist or a tea-seller a tea-seller? It's when you portray 'chaiwala' as an abuse that you are being elitist, which is what Modi did.
        1. S
          Nov 22, 2017 at 5:07 am
          Having zero talent to earn honest money, corrupt 'victims' of DeMo and GST have lost their do-number-ka-dhanda they had been doing with impunity for so many years (and more misery to come for them). These knuckle-head low-lifes in utter frustration, have tried hard to debase the dynamic PM of India, as uneducated Chaiwalla. Only exposes their fake love and concern for the poor, and only strengthens admiration for Modiji. There is NO SHAME whatsoever in being a chaiwalla in the past and becoming a leader PM of a population of 1.25 Billion, with hard work, intelligence, tactfulness and love for developing his nation. (Think about this, why not many if not all, could rise to PM level). On the contrary, it is actually VERY SHAMEFUL becoming a Pappu despite being a privileged born-Gandhi and leader of an intellect-bankrupt CONgress population, by avoiding responsibility, stupidity, over-smartness and love for just the power to rule the nation.
          1. A
            Nov 22, 2017 at 4:59 am
            Disgusting in one word. Derogatory of the PM who is very popular among the people still! And this when the Gandhi scion is about to take over. Obviously even his Party does not take him seriously. He had recently ashed tht the PM's office should not be targeted. It also reflects a lack of knowledge of international geopolitics. Ms Theresa May is not in any position to tell Modi anything and neither is Trump. I hope the Gujarati public give a resounding response via their vote. The light hearted humour of the Congress needs a serious response.
            1. Load More Comments