Aiyar returns, gaffe-prone Congress suffers

Mani Shankar Aiyar and Sam Pitroda have embarrassed the Congress this polls.

The Congress party is hurtling from one self-goal to another, as the seven-phased Lok Sabha election enters the final lap.

After tech evangelist-turned-Congress strategist Sam Pitroda’s gaffes, party veteran Mani Shankar Aiyar returned with a bang, as he justified his “neech” barb at Prime Minister Narendra Modi in an article in ‘Rising Kashmiri’ daily.

In a sharp retort, BJP described Aiyar as “abuser-in-chief”, with Home Minister Rajnath Singh saying that no Indian Prime Minister has been “abused” as much as Modi. In the article, Aiyar also slammed Modi on a series of issues and asked, “Remember how I described him on 7 December 2017? Was I not prophetic?”

“... Aiyar then apologized & hid behind poor Hindi excuse. Now he says he was prophetic,” BJP spokesperson G V L Narasimha Rao said referring to Aiyar’s suspension from the Congress and his subsequent return to the party fold.

The Congress was quick to condemn Aiyar’s remarks but at the same time accused the prime minister of lowering the political discourse by using “downright insulting” and “abusive language” against his political opponents.

Aiyar’s now infamous ‘chaiwala’ jibe at Modi ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha polls and “neech aadmi” remarks in the middle of the Gujarat assembly elections campaign in December 2017 were exploited to the hilt by the BJP to target the Congress.

“Welcome back my good friend Mani Shankar Aiyar. Reassured that you weren’t there in Balakot. The BJP regretted your absence during the campaign but there is still the final over left,” Rajya Sabha member Swapan Dasgupta said.

Aiyar’s remarks came as the Congress was firefighting Pitroda’s “hua toh hua” comments to describe the 1984 anti-Sikh pogrom following the assassination of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

Pitroda had earlier put the Congress in a difficult position by claiming that the middle-class will have to bear the burden of additional taxes to fulfill the party promise of minimum income guarantee scheme NYAY.

On both ocassions, Congress President Rahul Gandhi had to plunge into a damage control exercise and issue denials. In election rallies last month, Rahul had to make it clear that NYAY will not burden the middle-classes.

On the anti-Sikh riots, Rahul censured Pitroda publicly at a rally in Punjab, where the remarks could hurt the electoral prospects of the Congress.

“Pitroda should be ashamed and apologise to the nation,” the Congress President said at election rallies at Hoshiarpur and Khanna in Punjab.

Recently, Rahul himself was at the centre of an avoidable controversy, when he linked a Supreme Court order in the Rafale case to the ‘chowkidar chor hai’ jibe targeting Modi.

The Congress president had to tender an unconditional apology to the apex Court for attributing the chowkidar chor hai remarks to its order in the Rafale case.

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