The trigger may have been a somewhat desperate attempt to salvage Rahul Gandhi’s spirited campaign in Gujarat from another “own goal” unleashed by fawning loudmouths, yet there would be many who would firmly believe that the suspension of Mani Shankar Aiyar from the primary membership of the Congress party was an overdue “comeuppance”. If a few years back his chaiwallah remark had lubricated Mr Narendra Modi’s electoral machine, the neech denigration could well sink the chances of many Congress candidates in the upcoming poll.
And in between there have been several other occasions when “loose” comments from Aiyar, Digvijay Singh, Kapil Sibal and occasionally others, have had a vicious blowback. Aiyar’s half-cooked apology cuts as little ice as his “explanation” that he was unfamiliar with Hindi ~ he has lived in Delhi long enough to know better. It is not only when wearing his political hat that he has proved an embarrassment: old-timers will recall the mess he landed himself in at an India-hosted international meet where he functioned as the conference’s spokesman in addition to being the MEA’s media-man.
It is not entirely surprising that some party workers think his latest goof-up was actually a way of hitting out at Rahul who does not seem to give him too much “lift”. A “palace favourite” of yesteryear, Mani Shankar was among the gang of public school-elite college cronies that had been drafted into the Rajiv camp because of a presumed fluency in the English-language: he was among Rajiv’s squad of speech-writers. When Rajiv once made a particularly flowery intervention in the Rajya Sabha, from the Opposition ranks came a jeer from Yashwant Sinha ~ “hear, hear Mani”.
So much for the smug egotist ~ the focus must now shift to Rahul and the extent to which he succeeds in extricating the political discourse from the morass in which it presently wallows. Both Rahul and Dr Manmohan Singh, not without valid reason, accuse the Prime Minister and his minions of lowering political standards with Dr Singh recently demanding “more dignity” from his successor. There can be no two opinions that a new low was registered in 2014 and things have not improved thereafter.
If Rahul’s “suit-boot sarkar” was lapped up by some sections, another was thrilled by a BJPs minister’s drawing a distinction between Ramzadas and haramzadas, with others in her party recommending that the latter “go to Pakistan”. Something “had to give”: maybe Aiyar’s ***neech*** will prove the breaking strain. Rahul has made much of condemning that remark, reminding the voter of traditional values and the way in which politics was conducted by Nehru, Patel, Vajpayee, Bhupesh Gupta, Piloo Mody et al. Should he strive to revive such decency in politics he will earn much admiration ~ even if he does not reap an electoral harvest.