NEW DELHI: Suspended Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar, who on Friday created a furore with his 'neech' remark on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Friday said that he is ready to accept punishment from the party.
The veteran Congress leader added that he is 'saddened' is it has done any damage to the party, ahead of the Gujarat elections.
"If any damage has been done to Congress because of what I said, then I am saddened. I am ready to accept any punishment that the Congress party wants to give me," said Aiyar.
"I did not have any such intention," he added.
On Thursday, Aiyar triggered a major storm calling Narendra Modi a 'neech aadmi' (base), after which the Prime Minister retorted back, telling an election rally in Gujarat that describing him as "neech jaati" (low born) was an insult to Gujaratis who will vote out the Congress in the assembly elections.
PM Modi claimed that Aiyar's derogatory remarks reflected a 'Mughlai mindset' that viewed everyone as "neech" and said the Congress party's feudal attitude will prove to be their downfall.
"I have nothing to say on a 'wise' Congress leader calling me 'Neech'. This is the Congress mindset. They have their language and we have our work. People will answer them through the ballot box," Modi said at a public rally in poll-bound Gujarat.
I have nothing to say on a ‘wise’ Congress leader calling me ’Neech'. This is the Congress mindset. They have their language and we have our work. People will answer them through the ballot box. https://t.co/2McoZnaoar pic.twitter.com/icGqAphUzy
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) December 7, 2017
In a damage-control move, the Congress distanced itself from Aiyar's derogatory remark and suspended him from its primary membership. The party also slapped a show cause notice on him for his remark on the Prime Minister, which has mushroomed into a massive controversy just ahead of the Gujarat polls.
Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi exhorted the veteran leader to tender an unequivocal apology for his remark and asked him to respect the post of the Prime Minister.
"I do not appreciate the tone and language used by Mr Mani Shankar Aiyar to address the PM. Both the Congress and I expect him to apologise for what he said," Rahul said in a tweet.
Asserting that Aiyar's comments did not reflect the Congress party's views or culture, Rahul also pointed out that the BJP was crying foul when they too have frequently adopted unparliamentary language against the Congress and its leaders.