New Delhi: Finance Minister and senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley has termed Congress' move to suspend Mani Shankar Aiyar as 'strategic' ahead of Gujarat assembly elections scheduled for Saturday and next Thursday.
Congress on Thursday had suspended Aiyar from the primary membership of the party and issued him a show-cause notice over his purported casteist slur against Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He had called PM Modi 'neech' and after being admonished by Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi, clarified that he may have misspoken as Hindi was not his mother tongue.
While many appreciated Congress' rather swift decision to suspend Aiyar, Jaitley took to Twitter and said it was could be part of a larger strategy. "Mani Shankar Aiyer’s ‘Neech’ - attack on Prime Minister - a deliberate casteist statement, a convenient apology, a strategic suspension. People should see through this game," he tweeted late Thursday night.
Mani Shankar Aiyer’s ‘Neech’ -attack on Prime Minister- a deliberate casteist statement, a convenient apology, a strategic suspension. People should see through this game
— Arun Jaitley (@arunjaitley) December 7, 2017
Tensions are high before the Gujarat polls with both BJP and Congress trading barbs at each other. Aiyar's remark had only added fuel to the electoral fire already raging. PM Modi at an election rally had hit back against the remark made by the senior Congress leader and had said it was unacceptable in a democracy. "Congress leaders are speaking in a language that is not acceptable in a democracy. 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 mindset that of the Mughals."
While condemnation came from various quarters, Jaitley - in particular - pointed to what he claimed was Congress' focus on 'one elite family.'