Never a dull moment with Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar around. While interacting with ETV Bharat on abrogation of Article 370 and the Kashmir situation, Aiyar lost his cool when the journalist reminded him of his ‘chaiwala’ comment on Prime Minister Modi prior to 2014 general elections where he had claimed that Modi will never become a PM and he could arrange it for him to sell tea at AICC meet if Modi so wished. While the full version uploaded by ETV Bharat has this portion edited out, the following clip has gone viral on social media.
Full video, much more entertaining 👍🏾 pic.twitter.com/8d82u1GZu1
— Aman Nayak (@ThirdCultureMan) August 13, 2019
During the interaction, the journalist tells Aiyar that he has also been controversial and reminds him of his tea-seller remark. “You might remember,” the journalist tells Aiyar. Aiyar cuts him off and says he does not remember any such thing. “Mujhe kuch yaad nahin hai, maaf kijiye, kyunki maine yeh kabhi nahin kaha,(I don’t remember because I have never said it” he said.
Around 2 minutes 40 seconds in the above video, Aiyar could be heard saying how he had challenged that Modi will never become the Prime Minister in the 21st century and if he wishes to sell tea at AICC meet, he would arrange for it.
Coming back to his meltdown, Aiyar was reminded by the journalist how he made that statement at Talkatora stadium in Delhi. Aiyar loses his cool and then explains how he actually meant to be helpful to the then Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, who was bound to lose to Rahul Gandhi in 2014.
The journalist tells Aiyar how it is a little demeaning to say something like that but Aiyar hits back by saying that that is what the journalist is thinking. Aiyar then reminds the journalist that he is there to speak on Article 370 abrogation and not his five year old comment.
“Your questions on Kashmir are over, so the interview is now over,” Aiyar said, making a gesture of getting up. Aiyar was upset that his 2014 comment which refuses to die down has been brought up time and again. He then tells the journalist to get back on Kashmir and then threatens to get up from the interview.
Aiyar was reminded that as a journalist he could ask him questions, especially in a democracy.
Here comes the best part. around 1 minute 50 seconds in the video, the journalist tells Aiyar that he respects him because he has been a great leader. Aiyar suddenly loses whatever cool he had left and starts making strange sounds and says ‘thank you’ by folded hands in a very dramatic voice. He even touches the journalist’s feet while continuing to talk in a strange voice and mannerisms.
Aiyar, however, has quite controversial views on the Kashmir situation. In an article written in Indian Express titled “Who are we to teach Kashmiris the virtues of democracy?”, Mani Shankar Aiyar has lamented over the Modi government’s decision to scrap special status to Kashmir. In doing so, Aiyar has brought up the reference of Palestine to bring equivalence to Kashmir issue.
Aiyar claims that Modi-Shah duo has learned their lessons from their mentor, Benjamin Netanyahu and the Zionists, including former Israel Prime Minister Menachem Begin. Aiyar also added that PM Modi and Amit Shah have learnt to trample on the freedom, dignity and self-respect of the Kashmiris similar to Israel, who he claims had tried to get away with seven decades of merciless oppression of the Palestinians.
This is not the first time Aiyar has lost his cool on journalist, and in all likelihood it will not be the last. Prior to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections results,
Mani Shankar Aiyar said to one of the journalists that he was getting ‘angry’ at his choice of questions. When the journalist dared to ask him, what he thinks would be the result on 23rd May, Aiyar shoved away the mic held to him and imperiously shouted “F*ck off” to the journalist. Aiyar’s cavalier disregard for civility in public life was evident when he was seen forcibly yanking the mike off the Republic TV journalist and shouting at the journalist to “f*ck off” in December 2017.
In 2017, Aiyar was expelled from Congress for his unruly behaviour and using a casteist slur to attack PM Modi. Many people at that time had speculated that his expulsion was because he might have upset Congress’ caste strategy with his ‘neech’ comment. However, it was just a smokescreen to placate the growing protest against Aiyar for his repulsive casteist remarks. The ouster was short-lived as he was again quietly reinstatedin the party by the Congress president Rahul Gandhi, emboldening him and giving an impression that one can get away unpunished with abusing and using casteist slurs against opponents.