Use the choicest of Hindi adjectives to make the maximum impact and reach out to the largest possible audience. However, if caught wrong-footed or if it boomerangs, find an easy escape by blaming it on the lack of fluency in Hindi. That has been the tactic of senior Congress leaders to target Prime Minister Narendra Modi — their principal political rival — despite the fact that it has been proven to be largely counterproductive.
Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury is latest to join this league, which already has the likes of Mani Shankar Aiyar and Sam Pitroda. When Chowdhury made that “gandi nali” (dirty sewer) remark against Modi while comparing him to Indira Gandhi (whom he called Maa Ganga) he must have thought he made an instant impact.
It was possibly his way to show loyalty to the Congress First Family, which chose him over others to hold the honourable position of leader of Congress in the Lok Sabha. A five-time MP from Behrampore, Chowdhury is known for his aggressiveness and belligerence in public life, particularly when it comes to taking on political rivals.
Chowdhury could well have been Leader of Opposition, but since the Congress does not have the required numbers (10 percent of the total strength of Lok Sabha) he can’t have the Cabinet rank status and associated perks. However, as leader of largest party in Opposition he'd be called for various meetings by the government, including having the honour of being ex-officio member of panels headed by the prime minister.
With UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi sitting by his side, cheering and prompting him through his speech, representing his party on motion of thanks to president’s address, Chowdhury may have got a tad carried away in targeting Modi and the BJP. Modi was sitting in the House, opposite Chowdhury and Sonia.
When the heat of his unsavoury remark became too much to bear for Chowdhury and Congress, he came out with the excuse that was used by Aiyar and Pitroda. In his clarification, Chowdhury said, "My Hindi is not good as I am not a Hindi-speaking (person). By 'naali', I meant a channel. I am ready to apologise to the prime minister... I got enraged when BJP member tried to humiliate Swami Vivekananda by comparing him with Modi. That's why I used that analogy."
For Chowdhury, like Aiyar, Hindi is not his mother tongue. However, in that case he should have been even more careful with his language.
For good measure, he added in English: “Don’t compare a monk with a monster.”
Remember how Aiyar, in the run-up to Gujarat Assembly election, called Modi a “neech admi”. And when Modi made that an election issue, the Congress leader blamed it on his lack of command over Hindi. But ahead of last phase of polling in recently concluded parliamentary election, Aiyar in an article made a second "neech aadmi" remark: "Remember how I described him (Modi a neech admi) on 7 December, 2017? Was I not prophetic?"
In the run-up to the last two phases of 2019 parliamentary polls, Pitroda defended Rajiv Gandhi and Congress for 1984 anti-Sikh riots by saying “jo hua so hua”, but when Modi and BJP made it an election issue, Pitroda blamed his inability to find the right Hindi words. It should be noted that ahead of 2012 Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls, Rahul Gandhi made Pitroda an OBC face of the Congress and called him a rooted to the ground Vishwakarma-Badhi (carpenter).
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Updated Date: Jun 25, 2019 17:31:54 IST