Mani Shankar Aiyar has been as quiet as a mouse in the 2019 electoral race. It is quiet difficult to say if he was made to hold his tongue in the Lok Sabha elections, or was it his choice? Whatever the reason might be, he is back. In an Op-Ed written for Rising Kashmir, we can see Mani at his ‘Aiyar-ish’ best. He starts the article by degrading Hindu culture and ends it with referring to his attack on PM Modi and says that he was right all along.
Mani Shankar Aiyar has always had a way with words, but in Indian politics, quips and smart comments only land you in trouble. Aiyar has been outright in his criticism of the RSS, BJP and PM Modi. His comments have been unapologetic and during the 5 years of the Modi government, time and again the Congress Party has had to face the brunt of his mindless statements, where he established himself as an intellectual with strong hold on his language.
From scrutinizing Jaitely’s economic policies to calling PM Modi a “Neech Aadmi” Aiyar has never stopped himself and he is now back with attacks on Hindu culture and Prime Minister Modi. Referring to ‘mythical symbols’ likes “uddan khatolas” he mentions that Hindus think were the first F-16s invented by them. He also mentions the story of the Hindu god Ganesh surmounting an elephant’s head according to mythological stories as leverage used by Hindus, to claim an attempt of carrying out first plastic surgery. With no doubt, Aiyar tried to portray that the Hindu culture is devoid of scientific temper, and while he has constantly blamed the BJP and PM Modi for propagating communalism in the country, he has used communal references for scientific procedures and terms like plastic surgery and aeronautics. He has also claimed that the 23rd of May would mark as a fitting reply from India to the most foul-mouthed PM (referring to PM Modi).
Taking the baton of making rude comments on PM Modi forward, he also said, “PM of our country, whose acquaintance with higher education has gone no further than lying about degrees from Delhi and Gujarat University that he never got and who can obviously not tell a scientific proposition from a ‘dhokla’.” Mani Shankar has time and now attacked PM Modi on his personal life, referring to him as Chaiwala Pradhan Mantri. Defending Congress Prime Ministers, Aiyar said that Indira Gandhi and Rajeev Gandhi did not only make good leader but perhaps even great Prime Ministers. He completely forgot the Blue Star Operation during the Indira Gandhi rule, and also the 1984 Sikh riot that is infamously credited to Rajeev Gandhi. Well, like a sincere school student, Aiyar proved that he would turn a blind eye to all the wrongdoings of Congress, no matter how many suffered because of it.
Aiyar in the past has personally attacked the PM by calling him a “Chaiwala” who can never be the Prime Minister of the country. The statement by Aiyar according to various media outlets was a new low for political discourse. Aiyar is one of the original “baba log” of Indian politics. A Doon School, Cambridge alumnus (he was senior to former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi at both institutions), Mani Shankar Aiyar came to politics via diplomacy. He was an IFS officer (1963 batch) who served as a joint secretary. With such experience statements by him were deemed as irresponsible and objectionable.
The title of the article which is “On cloud nine of Nationalism” is itself a satirical at those who identify as nationalists. The entire article is filled with jibes at Hindu culture, it demeans the Indian Airforce for the Balakot airstrike and objects to the feeling of patriotism and nationalism, it also brings Mani Shankar Aiyer back into the fold of political discourse. Using words and intellect to drive controversies has always been Aiyar’s forte. Though, BJP did miss his comments, how long could he keep himself away or be kept away before the final power play of the election on 19th May.