Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seemingly buoyed by leader Mani Shankar Aiyar’s ‘neech aadmi’ comment, is now tightening the screws on the now-suspended Congress leader, and his party as his home state Gujarat entered the last stretch of its high-stakes Assembly election.
Speaking at a rally in Palanpur, PM Modi referred to some recent unverified reports, which he called “sensational”, and claimed Aiyar met with the Pakistani High Commissioner and “an ex-Pakistan Foreign Minister” at his home in New Delhi a day before calling him “neech”.
PM Modi, still referring to those reports, claimed “a former Vice President of India” as well as former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh were present at the meeting at Aiyar’s house. The Prime Minister, who was speaking in Gujarati and with an apparent sore throat, did not name the former Vice President.
However, Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah, speaking in Gandhinagar, while repeating the same claim said the Vice President was Hamid Ansari.
Prime Minister Modi, on the other hand, focused on the meeting, which he said went on for three hours. “And, a day after the meeting, Aiyar called Modi ‘neech’,” the Prime Minister said to a loud roar from the crowd at the Palanpur rally, which came a day after Kutch, Saurashtra and south Gujarat voted in the first phase of voting in the state’s two-part election.
“What was the reason for holding such a secret meeting, especially when an election is going on in Gujarat,” PM Modi went on to say, before he brought up another Pakistani angle. “A former Pakistan army director general, Arshad Rafique, had said [Congress leader and a close Gandhi family aide] Ahmed Patel should be the Chief Minister of Gujarat,” PM Modi said without revealing what reports had made that claim.
Here is a video of the Palanpur rally shared by the Bharatiya Janata Party on YouTube. PM Modi’s comments, about the purported secret meeting held at Aiyar’s home and attended by the Pakistani High Commissioner, an ex-Pakistani Foreign Minister, a former Vice President of India, and ex-PM Manmohan Singh, appear at around the 43rd- minute mark.
In his speech, PM Modi did not name the publications he said had reported on the “secret meeting”, but he said the news plastered “across TV channels and newspapers”. The Prime Minister also did not go so far as to suggest that Pakistan was helping the Congress in Gujarat, but he did question why such a meeting was held and why a member of the Pakistani military-intelligence establishment was speaking about the state election.
“A former Pakistani officer talks about the Gujarat election, a meeting is held at Mani Shankar’s house with some Pakistani officials. And, the next day, Gujarati people, backward classes, the poor, and Modi get insulted,” the Prime Minister said, with the last bit referring to Mani Shankar Aiyar’s “neech aadmi” comment.
“Brothers and sisters, don’t these developments raise questions? Aren’t they worrisome? The Congress should clarify about what is going,” the PM Modi went on to say in Palanpur, just one out of a number of places he has or will speak at in Gujarat.
The Congress so far has not commented on the claims made by PM Modi at his rally, which will be one of the last ones in the current Gujarat election. The state will hold the final bout of polling on Thursday, and results will be declared on Monday, December 18.