Rahul Gandhi sacking Mani Shankar Aiyar for his ‘neech aadmi’ remark is cue for BJP to walk the talk

While the Congress old guard was falling into BJP’s old trap of distortion, the president-elect has shown much-needed decisiveness.

 |  5-minute read |   07-12-2017
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Indian National Congress’ president-elect Rahul Gandhi has sent a stern message to his party workers and members by having Mani Shankar Aiyar – the veteran with an Oxbridge education and a foot-in-the-mouth disease – suspended from the party’s primary membership. Aiyar’s uncharitable remark about PM Modi – the Congress leader called the PM a “neech aadmi” – has backfired and would have bitten the party hard, but for Gandhi’s quick decision to sack the old timer.

While his notoriously snide comment about BJP's prime-ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, in 2014 – that he should sell tea at the AICC headquarters – had boomeranged to reduce Congress to its lowest-ever score in the Lok Sabha, the party veteran went on to issue another careless comment earlier today, December 7.

Previously, Aiyar’s “Aurangzeb” comment was misrepresented by the BJP IT cell and the mainstream media, but his latest – calling PM Modi “neech aadmi” – to indicate a low-level politics of bigotry, has caused a tsunami of enraged reaction, and rightly so.

Aiyar was quoted by news agencies as saying: “Mujhko lagta hai ki ye aadmi bahut neech kisam ka aadmi hai, isme koi sabhyata nahi hai. Aise mauke par is kisam ki gandi rajniti karne ki kya avashyakta hai? (This shows the low-level mindset of the PM and one bereft of any manners. What is the need of doing such dirty politics on such an occasion.)”

Aiyar was responding to PM Modi alleging, during a speech, that Congress and the Nehru-Gandhis have belittled BR Ambedkar’s legacy, when he made the “neech aadmi” comment.

modi-body__081517062_120717105416.jpgWill Modi take action against the serial offenders in his own camp? Photo: PTI

The swift politician in PM Modi latched on to Aiyar’s thoughtless statement to say that the Congress veteran was being an elitist and disliked the fact that a “lower caste” person has risen to power.

The PM reportedly said at a rally in Surat on the last day of campaigning for the first phase: “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. This is nothing but a Mughlai mindset.”

Moreover, other BJP leaders like Union finance minister Arun Jaitley, national president Amit Shah and law minister RS Prasad too didn’t leave the opportunity to take potshots at Congress over Aiyar’s comment.

It’s precisely in this volatile climate of accusations and counter-accusations that Aiyar’s comments have whipped up social media hysteria, because everything that the Congress leaders utter or do before the crucial Gujarat elections on December 9 and 14 is being weighed, word for word.

Whether it’s Kapil Sibal or Mani Shankar Aiyar, the old guards are being scrutinised and even a tiny hint of verbal carelessness is being used as cannonfodder to target the grand old party.

Two days back, Aiyar has been in a spot for his Aurangzeb remark, which was distorted and taken out of context. While the PM and the BJP IT cell was indeed misreporting his statement, and have been busted for their game of distortion as well, the “neech” comment was crying out for electoral targeting by the ruling BJP, which is a master of equivocation.

While Aiyar is known as a plain-speaker who says the most caustic and bitter truths without sugar-coating them, this is really not the time to strike below the electoral equinox of acceptability. The alumnus of the elite Doon school, St Stephen’s College and Trinity Hall, Cambridge University has been taken to the cleaners by an overactive BJP social media cell and those in media, who are genuinely put off by this political leg-before-the-wicket stunt by the party old guard.

However, Rahul Gandhi has been quick to condemn Aiyar’s language, while drawing attention to how PM Modi himself, as well as his lieutenants like Shah, Amit Malviya, Paresh Rawal, GVLN Rao, Yogi Adityanath among others, have constantly disparaged the Nehru-Gandhis, calling them names. Gandhi said:

An example is GVL Narasimha Rao’s tweet that has been red-flagged by several Congress members, which the BJP leader calls Gandhi a “Babar bhakt”, “kin of Khilji”, “siding with Islamic invaders”, betraying gross Islamophobia as well as making ad hominem attacks.

Similarly, tweets by Amit Malviya making gross and frankly uneducated insinuations about Jawaharlal Nehru, too have been called out for their misleading content and antipathy towards the Nehru-Gandhis. Paresh Rawal spoke of tying author Arundhati Roy to a jeep like the Kashmiri Farooq Ahmad Dar was, betraying both anti-Muslim sentiments and rabid misogyny.

Incidentally, unlike Gandhi’s swift action condemning and sacking Aiyar, no display of forthrightness has come from PM Modi, who has been often criticised for following trolls who routinely abuse women and seculars on social media, often sending out death threats.

This is the reason why #BlockNarendraModi trended on Twitter when PM Modi not only failed to issue stern warnings to the abusers, his deafening silence acted as a tacit approval of those disgusting social media trolls.

, but Gandhi’s decisiveness has certainly made an impact on everyone, with fellow Opposition leaders like Omar Abdullah, as well as journalists, among others reading this as a sign of a break from the old Sonia Gandhi style of doing politics, which amounted to stony silence on thorny issues.

Isn’t it cue for BJP to walk the talk and take action against the serial offenders in its own camp?

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