Congress suspends Aiyar over neech jibe against Modi

Mani Shankar Aiyar

Congress has suspended Mani Shankar Aiyar from the the primary membership of the party for his "neech" comments made for Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday. He has been issued a show cause notice to explain his remarks about PM Modi.

The move did not appease the BJP, which had criticised Mr Aiyar's words in the strongest terms.

The comment had backfired on the Congress, as the BJP gained momentum from this statement, and launched its massive "Chai pe Charcha" (chat over tea) campaign.

Aiyar said that he could not understand the actual implications of the word "neech" when he used it as he is not a Hindi speaker. Is this not an insult to Gujarat?

Congress leaders have a problem if someone like him (Modi) wears good clothes, the prime minister said, in an apparent reference to Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi's "suit-boot ki sarkar" jibe in the past.

However, Aiyar's remark not only brought the Congress in a defensive mode, but also triggered a controversy that could be avoided.

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Rahul Gandhi, who at 47 is set to take over the Congress after his unopposed election last week, had earlier said, "No matter what Modi says about us, we'll not go beyond certain point as he is the Prime Minister". They have their language and we have our work. "Please do not respond to the remark even on Twitter", he said.

Learning from the political damage in 2014 Lok Sabha election cause by personal attacks against PM Modi, Rahul Gandhi had given clear guidelines to Gujarat Congress leaders not to resort to attacking Modi personally.

"They can call me "Neech"- 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 OBC communities".

Disapproving Aiyar's comment, Rahul tweeted: "BJP and PM routinely use filthy language to attack the Congress party".

Meanwhile, Rahul Gandhi said he do not agree with the language used by Aiyar. Aiyar said the comments by the PM showed his low-level mindset and one bereft of any manners. PM Modi, who was campaigning in Gujarat, had called it the Congress's "Mughal values that teach to demean castes and talk about upper and lower castes".

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