While addressing a rally in Surat, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday slammed Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar and said, "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".
Speaking to ANI, Aiyar had said, "Ye aadmi bahut neech kisam ka aadmi hai, is mein koi sabhyata nahi hai, aur aise mauke par is kisam ki gandi rajniti karne ki kya avashyakta hai?"
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath attacked Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar's "neech" remark against.
However, Congress also dared BJP and Modi even after dissociating itself from Aiyar's comment. "Mani Shankar Aiyar has called me neech and from nichli jaati (lower caste)".
Modi said Aiyar's remark was an "insult" to Gujarat as he once again sought to stir a sense of Gujarati pride among the voters. Is it not an insult to India's great values? One Congress leader, who has studied in best institutions, served as a diplomat, was a Minister in Cabinet, he said Modi is 'neech.' This is insulting. "I, as chief minister of Gujarat for 14 years and now as PM, have done nothing that has forced citizens to hang their heads in guilt". Let them keep calling me "Neech" we will not respond. These are some words or phrases the Congress has used for PM Modi in the past.
"I appeal to all BJP activists not to retort".
The disciplinary action against the Gandhi family loyalist came two days before the first phase of Assembly polls in Gujarat in what was seen as a bid by the grand old party to do some damage control before the crucial election. The Congress has a different culture and heritage.
As the row turned into an embarrassment for the Congress, Rahul Gandhi took to Twitter to disapprove of Aiyar's language.
Aiyar did apologise for what he called his poor command of Hindi. "My Hindi is not very good".
However, this did not fully assuage the worry of the potential fallout of Aiyar's slur against the PM in a state wherein 2007, Sonia calling Modi "maut ka saudagar" had worse boomeranged on her party. "Not just to Gujarat but to the entire nation".