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Mani Shankar Aiyar habitually on wrong foot

Mani Shankar Aiyar is reminded of the Tamil quote: “Nunalum than vayal kedum” (a frog wrecks by its inability to keep its mouth shut).  The “neech” comment from the intemperate Aiyar was god-sent political gold for the BJP, particularly when Modi’s fortunes seemed dwindling in the Gujarat state. The saffron’s will not let it go, even if the rattled (?) Rahul Gandhi has indulgently rebuked Aiyar.

But who cares for such nuances in the thick of critical, high-decibel Gujarat polls? Though the party has censured and suspended Aiyar, it would probably not match Modi’s ability to milk the opportunity.  When you bowl a rank short-ball, how do you expect the attacking batsman to play it dot? Aiyar has given the BJP what it wanted, and could not have hurt the Congress’ chances more with his words.

Repeating a “Chaiwala” moment

When Aiyar had affronted the tea-vending community, the “Chaiwallah” turned out to be a national perspective, reminding that selling tea is more honourable than an Honourable minister looting the public funds.

If he wanted to attack his political rivals, he could have done it any number of ways, but it is puzzling the option chosen by him. As a former IFS Officer, it is tough to comprehend how he failed to be “diplomatic” in his choice of epithets, being himself a former Diplomat of long -standing. The senior Congress leader, also a Doon school student getting his language and its meaning garbled is just unheard of! Is it arrogance or superiority complex in his sub-conscience that slipped out of his mouth? Has he become senile and whimsical by age?

This is not just the first time that the Congress party has been embarrassed by the “neech” reference to Modi.  In 2014, Priyanka Gandhi had reportedly been referred to “neech rajniti”, which Modi had said was a reference to his caste (Livemint, 09/12/2017).

History with inspiring leaders

A ‘newspaper seller’ made us proud by becoming the President of India; in fact, Mr APJ Abdul Kalam, the most respected visionary, the free India ever had. Abraham Lincoln, the son of a shoe-maker, became the President of America. Every time, we drive a car, it is good to remember Henry Ford, who started from scrap, yet managed to steer his way through to riches and harness the benefit to mankind.

A chapter on Rajnikanth’s life story has been incorporated by the CBSE board to motivate children to be successful and take pride in whatever work they do, just like their superstar has, no matter what the job was — being a bus conductor or the most loved superstar of India.

History is replete with plenty of inspiring success stories. A ‘tea vendor’ has nailed his national identity. The nation has clearly preferred to have an “enterprising tea-vendor” than an “educated-you”.  Come on, Mr Aiyar, should we remind you that Narendra Modi is the Prime Minister of the entire nation, Congress party members inclusive?

The vituperative tongue

Aiyar is no stranger to controversy. In an article in The Telegraph (Sept 12, 2002) Mr Aiyar wrote: “When J Jayalalithaa became Chief Minister, she donated a baby elephant to the Guruvayoor temple. When I become CM, I intend donating Jayalalithaa to the Guruvayoor temple. And to become CM, I am planning to move a bill in parliament to ban fading actresses of cinematic origin from becoming CM”.

In 1998, Aiyar was forced to apologise for calling the then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee as “incompetent”.

By your utterances, Mr. Aiyar, you have failed to honour the dignity of work, caused unlimited disrepute to your party and hurt all your fellow-citizens.

Mani Shankar Aiyar and Narendra Modi aren’t the best of friends. But it’s lamentable that Aiyar, the diplomat-turned-politician has chosen to parade his aversion to Modi in the most undiplomatic manner. How come the former IFS Officer prefers to be carefully careless about courtesies when he has to speak on PM Modi’s policies?  

Last word

It is true that more Congress supporters are ashamed of his comments. The Congress may have put up a holier-than-thou act by suspending the indiscreet senior leader Mani Shankar Aiyar from the primary membership of the party, but isn’t it more out of desperation to save the fortunes of the party in the poll-bound Gujarat. Did Rahul Gandhi mean it? Will the suspension be lifted after the Gujarat polls?

One question for the ruling BJP: When someone makes derogatory utterances against the Prime Minister, why don’t you look at it beyond immediate electoral gains or political mileage? More than the BJP leader, it’s the Prime Minister, isn’t it?

Oh, Mani Shankar Aiyar, why did you have to speak? Is this what is known as Vinasa Kale, vipreet buddhi?

(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)

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