Congress on Thursday acted strongly against its senior leader Mani Shankar Aiyar and suspended him from party's primary membership over his "neech" remark against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
"This is Congress's Gandhian leadership and respect towards its opponents. Congress party has issued a showcause notice to Mr Mani Shankar Aiyar and suspended him from party's primary membership. Will Modi also " Congress leader Randeep Surjewala tweeted.
यही हैं कांग्रेस का गांधीवादी नेतृत्व व विरोधी के प्रति सम्मान की भावना।
कांग्रेस पार्टी ने श्री मनी शंकर अय्यर को कारण बताओ नोटिस जारी कर प्राथमिक सदस्यता से निलम्बित कर दिया है।
क्या मोदी जी कभी यह साहस दिखाएँगे? https://t.co/h6MEgvm6Ca— Randeep S Surjewala (@rssurjewala) December 7, 2017
The action against senior leader Mani Shankar Aiyar is seen as a big and bold decision by Rahul Gandhi, who will soon be elevated to the post of Congress President.
Mani Shankar Aiyar was a close aide of former PM Rajeev Gandhi. This is the first time that Congress has suspended one of its senior leader for personal attack against Prime Minister Modi.
The move is also seen as the beginning of Rahul era in Congress. Rahul Gandhi had given clear guidelines to Gujarat Congress leaders to not to launch personal attacks against PM Modi.
Sh #RahulGandhi Ji has already cautioned all the Congress leaders and workers not to speak anything against the dignity of the post of PM. Despite that #ManiShankarAiyar's statement is unfortunate and I condemn it. He should apologise to the PM for this.— Ashok Gehlot (@ashokgehlot51) December 7, 2017
Earlier in the day, referring to PM Modi, Aiyer had said, "This person is a 'neech aadmi'. He is not civilised and in a situation like this, there is no need to practise such dirty politics."
Aiyer’s remark sparked a massive controversy with both BJP and PM Modi slamming the leader and Congress for using "insulting" language.
Modi said the language, Congress leaders are speaking is not acceptable in a democracy and people will answer them with their votes.
“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 Mughalai Mindset,” PM Modi said while addressing a rally in Surat.
“Let them keep calling me ‘Neech’ we will not respond. We do not have this mindset and want to congratulate them for theirs. If anything- we will answer them for their mindset with our votes on 9th and 14th,” he said.
Reacting to Aiyar’s remark, Rahul Gandhi rebuked the senior Congress leader reminding him of the party’s culture and heritage.
Rahul Gandhi said, "despite the fact that BJP and PM routinly use filthy language to attack Congress, I do not appreciate the tone and language used by Mr Mani Shankar Aiyer to address the Prime Minister as it was against the culture and heritage of Congress party."
“Both Congress and I expect him to apologise for what he said,” Rahul said.
Soon after Rahul Gandhi’s instructions, Mani Shankar Aiyer came out with an explanation and said by “neech,” he meant “low level”.
“I think in English when I speak in Hindi as Hindi is not my mother tongue. So if it has some other meaning then I apologize,” Aiyer said.