In January this year when asked about Narendra Modi, Mani Shankar Aiyar had stated, ‘I promise you in 21st Century Narendra Modi will never become the Prime Minister of the country. But if he wants to distribute tea here, we will find a place for him,' A few months down the line, Narendra Modi led NDA got 336 seats in the Lok Sabha election with BJP alone crossing the 282 mark on its own.
Never before in the recent history of modern India did a party have such an astounding wave in its favor. It was a perfect snub by the electorate for the likes of Mani Shankar Aiyars and a reflection of how little their snobbish and elitist viewpoints, given from ivory towers, count.
Modi elevation as the Prime Minister of India and the fact that his foreign policy acumen has definitely started a paradigm shift in terms of the perception of major global powerhouses towards India can never be ignored or underestimated, however much the Congress may try to yell otherwise.
But Mani Shankar Aiyar has not changed one bit...
But old habits die hard. On asked about Obama's acceptance of Modi's invitation to become the Chief Guest for India's Republic Day celebrations, Aiyar replied, "What is the big deal in that, nobody else is inviting him so he is accepting the invite, he is a 'lame duck' president."
In one way, Mani Shankar Aiyar can simply be ignored for what he says as it hardly makes any difference. In the last six months all such self proclaimed intellectuals, known for their nose-in -the-air-arrogance and stiff upper lip disdain for others, have been relegated to irrelevance by the iconic rise of Modi. But looking from another perspective, Mani Shankar Aiyar's comment is also a reflection of the same Lutyen's elitist mindset which refuses to metamorphose with changing times.
What does Mr Aiyar's statement signify?
Mani Shankar Aiyar on his own does not matter much but what he stated and the mentality he displayed is a sheer reflection of the reasons for which Congress has been reduced to rubbles.
The party and its elitist members are yet to come to terms with the change of regime in Centre and the fact that Modi's is becoming stronger by the day. Terming Obama as a lame duck President is a reflection of the extent of frustration that Congress is going through after witnessing the manner in which Modi has been embraced by not Just India but also the world.
But have the likes of Mani Shankar Aiyar forgotten as to how the UPA regime and the then Prime Minister of India Man Mohan Singh had affinity and awe for US and its President? Have the likes of Mani Shankar Aiyar forgotten how much of a lame duck ManMohan Singh had himself been?
Obama does not matter...it is the President of US who has been invited
Obama is the President of the most influential and powerful economic and military powerhouse of world and India needs to engage with that nation even while maintaining its own individual foreign policy. From that perspective Obama's acceptance of Modi's invitation is a reflection of the deepening ties between a powerful and an emerging powerhouse. It was only in the recent part that Obama Administration accepted Modi's condition and insistence on continuing with food subsidy and allowed special concession for India to take forward the new round of WTO regulations on custom rules.
So much for clout and foreign policy
Nevertheless if Mr Aiyar was hinting at Modi's clout and doubting it, then perhaps he had not read or heard about the recent Sri Lanka issue. It was just a few days back when the increasing prowess and influence of India over its neighbors was exemplified when Modi's phone call to the Sri Lankan President was good enough to have the Sri Lankan President commuting the death sentence of five Indian fishermen and returning them to India. Now which Indian Prime Minister in the recent decades has been able to persuade India's neighbors so successfully? Does Congress have an answer for that?
Bottomline-Does Congress realize how each such comment hurt the party's fortune even more ?
Fact of the matter is that Congress is today a rattled lot and is literally clueless about how to resurrect the moribund party which has now got used to electoral defeats, one after the other. But denigrating Modi or terming the US President a ‘Lame Duck' would not help the matters much. It is time for Congress to do some introspection and realize how such comments have actually created more problems for that party than solving them.
And for Aiyar, it is time to realize how each of his obnoxious statements has been used by BJP to its advantage and how each time he was caught off guard by the response. Remember the ‘Chaiwala for PM' campaign by BJP in response to Aiyar's comments on Modi? But as they say, old habits die hard.