New Delhi, Nov 23: What happens when a group of inexperienced and clumsy but overzealous football players is pitted against the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo? They end up scoring 'self-goals', invariably.
Cut to Indian politics, the Congress had its 'facepalm moment' when 'novices' from its youth wing--the Indian Youth Congress (INC)--who have been recently trained to troll on social media, ended up scoring one of the most expensive 'self-goals' for the grand old party on Tuesday, just days ahead of the all-important Gujarat Assembly elections, scheduled on December 9 and 14.
The juvenile and over-excited members of the Congress tried to beat the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at its own game by tweeting a "crass, classist and anti-poor" meme on Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Their effort proved futile and exorbitant for the party.
The now deleted "derogatory" tweet on the PM, posted from the official handle of the INC's online magazine, Yuva Desh, generated a new political storm by once again exposing the Congress' elitist and feudal mindset as the party even after 70 years of Indian Independence can't look beyond the Gandhi-Nehru dynasty to rule over the country.
Official handle of Indian Youth Congress's online magazine Yuva Desh deletes derogatory tweet against PM Narendra Modi pic.twitter.com/dWoIU6RmH2— ANI (@ANI) November 21, 2017
The meme, that has become a bone of contention between the rival parties, is basically a photograph of Modi, US President Donald Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May having a conversation.
In the meme, Modi was seen telling the two leaders about the opposition's memes targeting him, "Aap logon ne dekha vipaksh mere kaise kaise maimai banvata hai (Have you seen the kind of 'maimai' the opposition makes of me)?"
Thereafter, Modi was immediately interrupted by Trump. He tried to correct the Indian PM by saying the word "meme" is pronounced "meem", "Usse maimai nahin, meem kehta hain (That is not called maimai but 'meem')." And, a dismissive-looking May tells Modi to sell tea, "Tu chai bech (You sell tea)."
The Congress' offensive meme, which denigrates the country's official head, once again tried to rake up PM Modi's humble past when he as a child used to sell tea in the railway stations of his home state, Gujarat, to add to the income of his family.
Unlike, many who generally try to hide their past if it's not that pleasant and full of struggles, Modi is quite open about his journey from being a "tea seller" (chaiwala) to the country's PM. Modi has spoken about the hardship he and his family endured on several occasions, both within and outside the country.
The millions of "poor" Indians see Modi as one of them--a representation of their struggles, hard work, hopes, and aspirations. The PM's 'rags to riches' story generate hope among those who are not born with a silver spoon in their mouths like Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi to make it big in their lives.
Thus by targetting Modi and his background, the Congress has just touched a raw nerve with the Indian poor. It's this arrogance of the Congress, ruled by the rich and powerful Gandhi family, which is sure going to prove costly for the party during the Gujarat elections.
The Gujaratis are unlikely to forgive the Congress for attacking the son of the soil. The poor of Gujarat too would think twice before voting for the Congress which has least regards for the needy people and make fun of one of them unabashedly.
If the Congress loses the Gujarat Assembly elections (which it would anyway looking at the results of all exit polls), then the "shameful" tweet on the PM would top the list of reasons behind its debacle.
Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah has compared the meme with "political suicide" committed by the Congress.
What is about elements of the Congress party that commit political suicide with such amazing regularity? This tweet is in such poor taste. https://t.co/swRy5l57WU— Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) November 21, 2017
This is not the first time when the Congress committed "political suicide" by deriding Modi and his "chaiwala" background.
Who can forget the infamous episode when senior Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar called Modi a "chaiwala" at a huge party gathering ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections?
"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," Aiyar said trying to belittle Modi as a tea seller.
Similarly, Congress president Sonia Gandhi's "maut ka saudagar (merchant of death)" jibe at Modi during the Gujarat Assembly elections 2007 backfired badly, as the state elected Modi as its chief minister with a thumping majority.
After the Tuesday's meme on Modi was noticed by the media cell of the BJP, it immediately hit back at the Congress. The Congress soon apologised for its mistake and deleted the tweet. But it was too late as the damaged has been already done after the news spread far and wide.
INC strongly disapproves & rejects such humour through memes. Differences on policy and opinion aside, Congress culture imbibes respect for PM and all political opponents. https://t.co/RqLOugCHwh— Randeep S Surjewala (@rssurjewala) November 21, 2017
We condemn this and are apologetic. We are trying to find out who did that tweet as mainly volunteers run that page: Suraj Hegde, In Charge Youth Congress on Yuva Desh tweet against PM Modi pic.twitter.com/Ujk71vWs5J— ANI (@ANI) November 21, 2017
The handle is not run by Indian Youth Congress but by volunteers, I still take this opportunity and apologize and strongly condemn that tweet: Amrinder Singh Raja Brar,Youth Congress Chief pic.twitter.com/5pIfT73LT3— ANI (@ANI) November 21, 2017
From BJP leaders and supporters to liberals, almost everyone took offence to the meme calling it as an insult to the entire nation, where poverty is rampant and so are industrious people like Modi who are self-made.
These are some of the tweets by top BJP leaders against the Modi meme:
The arrogance of the Congress Party and shameful anti-poor stand gets exposed from the official twitter of the Youth Congress that a person born in poverty in the family of a tea vendor cannot become the Prime Minister. No lessons learnt. Insulting popular mandate. pic.twitter.com/aKxWkvvdyY— Ravi Shankar Prasad (@rsprasad) November 21, 2017
Madam Sonia Gandhi & Mr Rahul Gandhi do u still believe that only u have a divine right to rule India? Country expects ur response on the tweet of the youth Congress, which is shameful & insulting to poor. U can delete the Tweet but ur thinking towards the poor stands exposed. pic.twitter.com/TKQho0lAiB— Ravi Shankar Prasad (@rsprasad) November 21, 2017
Congress has once again displayed its anti-poor mindset through such tweets. Upcoming elections will be another reality check for them. pic.twitter.com/Qxj2aGXxPM— Piyush Goyal (@PiyushGoyal) November 21, 2017
An 'angry' BJP is not going to spare the Congress in its attempt to insult Modi's humble beginning. Like in 2014, when Modi after facing Aiyar's nasty comment did not sulk, he rather used the word "chaiwala" to his advantage by speaking about his past profession again and again at election rallies and garnered voters' sympathy and support.
In fact, Modi started his popular interaction with people called "chai pe charcha (discussion over teacups)" to take a dig at the Congress' jibe.
As the campaign season in Gujarat will soon pick up, the "chaiwala" issue is sure going to create a storm in the Congress' 'teacup'.