AHMEDABAD: Terming Mani Shankar Aiyar's "neech aadmi" remarks against Prime Minister Narendra Modi as an "insult" to the poor as well as B R Ambedkar, Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad today claimed the Congress leader had Rahul Gandhi's "approval" to use such derogatory language.
Prasad alleged that Aiyar targetted Modi because the latter had questioned the delayed conferring of Bharat Ratna -- the country's highest civilian award -- on Dalit icon Ambedkar and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.
"Modi was targeted by Aiyar because he had questioned why Dr B R Ambedkar was given Bharat Ratna in 1990 when he had died in 1956.
"The PM also asked why Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was conferred Bharat Ratna 42 years after his death. So now, the 'darbaris' (courtiers) of the Nehru-Gandhi family would call our PM 'neech' (vile) for asking these questions? This is an insult of both our PM as well as Ambedkar," the law minister told reporters.
Blasting the Congress, Prasad said Aiyar's remarks reflected the "feudal arrogance" of the party leaders.
"This (the remarks) is the feudal arrogance of the Congress, as they could not digest the fact that the son of a poor tea seller has become the prime minister. What Aiyar said is an insult to all the poor and downtrodden citizens of Gujarat and of this country," Prasad said.
Aiyar's unsavoury remarks have drawn a sharp reaction from Modi who dubbed it as an "insult" to Gujarat and a reflection of "Mughal mentality".
Prasad said Congress leaders believed that only a heir of the Nehru-Gandhi family is capable of leading the country, which reflects a "highly deplorable mindset".
"There is very deplorable and feudal mindset behind this condemnable observation that only a 'waris' (heir) of the Gandhi-Nehru family can run this country and only they are capable of doing so," the BJP leader said.
Prasad said Modi was targeted on earlier occasions as well by Congress leaders "as part of a design" because he comes from a "poor family".
"I wish to say with full responsibility that this kind of abuses being showered on my leader and PM with alarming regularity without any check (is) being done with full approval and affirmation of Rahul Gandhi," Prasad said.
Prasad said Aiyar was a close friend of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi and they had studied together in school.
Left red-faced by Aiyar's remarks, Congress suspended him from the primary membership of the party.