New Delhi: In controversial remarks, Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar on Thursday called Prime Minister Narendra Modi a "neech aadmi" (vile man), who does "dirty politics".
"He (Modi) is 'neech kism ka aadmi' (a vile man) who has no 'sabhyata' (civility)," he said, attacking Modi after the latter accused the Congress of seeking votes in B R Ambedkar's name but trying to erase his contribution to building India.
The prime minister, while inaugurating the Ambedkar International Centre that was conceived 23 years ago, hit out at the Congress, saying parties seeking votes in Ambedkar's name tried to erase his contribution to nation building.
"Such was his (Ambedkar's) incredible strength that when years after his demise efforts were made by such people to crush his philosophy, when efforts were made to erase his contribution towards nation building, his ideals could not be wiped out from people's memory," he said.
He said he would not be wrong in saying that "more people are still influenced by his (Ambedkar's) ideas than the family for which such efforts (to erase his contribution) were made".
Aiyar claimed that it was the country's first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru who recognised Ambedkar's potential.
"What is the need for doing dirty politics on such an occasion?" he asked.
The Congress too strongly disapproved of Aiyar's remarks, with party Vice President Rahul Gandhi saying he and the party expected the leader to tender an apology.
"BJP and PM routinely use filthy language to attack Congress party. Congress has a different culture and heritage. I do not appreciate the tone and language used by Mr Mani Shankar Aiyer to address the PM. Both the Congress and I expect him to apologise for what he said," Gandhi said.
Meanwhile, Aiyar defended his remark on PM even as he apologised, stating that Hindi was not his mother tongue and that he meant low level when he used the term "neech".
"I meant low level when I said 'neech', I think in English when I speak in Hindi as Hindi is not my mother tongue. So if it has some other meaning then I apologise," he said.
"Why was PM taking a jibe at Congress and Rahul Gandhi at the inauguration of Ambedkar International Centre? Everyday PM is using foul language against our leaders. I am a freelance 'Congressi', I hold no post in the party, so I can reply to PM in his language," he added.