Congress on Thursday acted strongly against its senior leader Mani Shankar Aiyar and suspended him from party's primary membership over his "neech" remark against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The Congress party also issued a showcause notice to its Rajya Sabha MP Aiyar for using derogatory language against PM Modi.
"This is Congress's Gandhian leadership and respect towards its opponents. Congress party has issued a showcause notice to Mr Mani Shankar Aiyar and suspended him from party's primary membership. Will Modi also " Congress leader Randeep Surjewala tweeted.
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The action against senior leader Mani Shankar Aiyar is seen as a big and bold decision by Rahul Gandhi, who will soon be elevated to the post of Congress President.
Mani Shankar Aiyar was a close aide of former PM Rajeev Gandhi. This is the first time that Congress has suspended one of its senior leader for personal attack against Prime Minister Modi.
The move is also seen as the beginning of Rahul era in Congress. Rahul Gandhi had given clear guidelines to Gujarat Congress leaders to not to launch personal attacks against PM Modi.
Sh #RahulGandhi Ji has already cautioned all the Congress leaders and workers not to speak anything against the dignity of the post of PM. Despite that #ManiShankarAiyar's statement is unfortunate and I condemn it. He should apologise to the PM for this.â€” Ashok Gehlot (@ashokgehlot51) December 7, 2017
Earlier in the day, referring to PM Modi, Aiyer had said, "This person is a 'neech aadmi'. He is not civilised and in a situation like this, there is no need to practise such dirty politics."
Aiyerâ€™s remark sparked a massive controversy with both BJP and PM Modi slamming the leader and Congress for using "insulting" language.
Modi said the language, Congress leaders are speaking is not acceptable in a democracy and people will answer them with their votes.
â€œOne Congress leader, who has studied in best institutions, served as a diplomat, was a Minister in Cabinet, he said Modi is â€˜Neech.â€™ This is insulting. This is nothing but a Mughalai Mindset,â€ PM Modi said while addressing a rally in Surat.
â€œLet them keep calling me â€˜Neechâ€™ we will not respond. We do not have this mindset and want to congratulate them for theirs. If anything- we will answer them for their mindset with our votes on 9th and 14th,â€ he said.
Reacting to Aiyarâ€™s remark, Rahul Gandhi rebuked the senior Congress leader reminding him of the partyâ€™s culture and heritage.
Rahul Gandhi said, "despite the fact that BJP and PM routinly use filthy language to attack Congress, I do not appreciate the tone and language used by Mr Mani Shankar Aiyer to address the Prime Minister as it was against the culture and heritage of Congress party."
â€œBoth Congress and I expect him to apologise for what he said,â€ Rahul said.
Soon after Rahul Gandhiâ€™s instructions, Mani Shankar Aiyer came out with an explanation and said by â€œneech,â€ he meant â€œlow levelâ€.
â€œI think in English when I speak in Hindi as Hindi is not my mother tongue. So if it has some other meaning then I apologize,â€ Aiyer said.Â