The political slugfest between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress Party reached a new low when Mani Shankar Aiyar on Thursday referred to Prime Minister Narendra Modi as a "neech aadmi" (low-minded person) for appropriating Babasaheb Ambedkar into his election campaign for the imminent assembly polls in Gujarat.
"He (Modi) is "neech kism ka aadmi" (a vile man) who has no "sabhyata" (civility)", he said, attacking Modi after the latter accused the Congress of seeking votes in B R Ambedkar's name but trying to erase his contribution to building India.
Modi said Aiyar came from a good family, has a number of university degrees, was a diplomat for a number of years and remained a Minister in the Manmohan Singh government, but was resorting to such insults.
Ahead of the 2014 national election also, Mani Shankar Aiyar had derided Narendra Modi as a tea seller who could never be Prime Minister.
Even then Aiyar had made a similar defense that he did today; that he did not understand the import of the Hindi word used by him.
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Speaking to the media here, Aiyar said, "I meant a low-minded person when I said "neech".
"I don't think he is low born but his language is very, I'll say in English, is very low language".
A chastised Aiyar did proffer a conditional apology, but that did not apparently smooth the ruffled feathers of the troubled Congress leadership which suspended his primary membership to contain the possible damage his comment might cause in Gujarat elections. Why would he use such a low language for the Congress on such an occasion. So if it has some other meaning or it means "low-born" only, then I apologise for the wrong translation. In English there's a clear distinction between "low" and "low born". Whatever I say they want to misinterpret.
He also said Aiyar's comment had full approval of Congress' would be President Rahul Gandhi.
"The Congress Party has challenged the weaker and backward sections of India by calling the Prime Minister as neech".
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The Congress was quick to distance itself from Aiyar's comment and said it did not suit the party's culture and heritage.
The Congress tonight suspended Aiyar from the primary membership of the party and issued him a show-cause notice.
"But if you have any anger over the use of such words against me, press the button alongside the lotus symbol on 9th and 14th (Gujarat polling dates)", Modi told the gathering.
Aiyar, a former sports minister himself, said Maken was not qualified enough to write such a letter to the prime minister.
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