Senior Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar apologised for 'Neech' remark against Prime Minister Narendra Modi after a public reprimand from party vice president Rahul Gandhi.
Aiyar, who had termed PM Modi "neech" in an earlier statement on Thursday, was forced to mince his words later in the day.
"I meant low level when I said 'neech', I think in English when I speak in Hindi as Hindi is not my mother tongue. So if it has some other meaning then I apologise," Congress leader told media in the evening.
However, the apology did not come sine jibe, "Everyday PM is using foul language against our leaders. I am a freelance Congressi, I hold no post in the party, so I can reply to PM in his language," Aiyar added.
I meant low level when I said 'neech', I 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: Mani Shankar Aiyar pic.twitter.com/yf5tshB1Vt— ANI (@ANI) December 7, 2017
#WATCH: "Ye aadmi bahut neech kisam ka aadmi hai, is mein koi sabhyata nahi hai, aur aise mauke par is kisam ki gandi rajniti karne ki kya avashyakta hai?: Congress' Mani Shankar Aiyar on PM Modi pic.twitter.com/sNXeo6a1Gi— ANI (@ANI) December 7, 2017
Moments before Aiyar's apology, Rahul Gandhi publicly asked senior party leader Aiyar to apologise to PM Modi for the remark.
"BJP and PM routinely use filthy language to attack the Congress party. The Congress has a different culture and heritage. I do not appreciate the tone and language used by Mr Mani Shankar Aiyer to address the PM. Both the Congress and I expect him to apologise for what he said," Rahul Gandhi tweeted.
BJP and PM routinely use filthy language to attack the Congress party. The Congress has a different culture and heritage. I do not appreciate the tone and language used by Mr Mani Shankar Aiyer to address the PM. Both the Congress and I expect him to apologise for what he said.— Office of RG (@OfficeOfRG) December 7, 2017
Rahul Gandhi's demand for apology came minutes after the prime minister raised the 'Neech' remark issue during a poll rally in Gujarat's Surat.
“They can call me 'Neech'- Yes, I am from the poor section of society and will spend every moment of my life to work for the poor, Dalits, Tribals and OBC communities. They can keep their language, we will do our work,” PM Modi said.
The Prime Minister also said that people should not react to such statements by Congress leaders and ‘congratulated’ the Congress for its mindset.
“I beg to the people of India- please let them be. Let them keep calling me 'Neech' 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,” he said.
Apology not accepted
The Bharatiya Janata Party has termed the apology a well thought poll strategy.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said that the Congress' problem runs deeper than a single remark.
"I think it is a well thought strategy by the Congress, to use filthy language about PM & spread misinformation but when there is public outrage they apologize," Arun Jaitley said.
"It is not just a matter of filthy language but of Congress' mindset which says that only one family can rule this country and if someone from the weaker section becomes PM then they call him 'chaiwala' & 'neech'," Jaitley added.