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Is Sam Pitroda the Mani Shankar Aiyar of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls?


New Delhi, May 11: Sam Pitroda, close aide of Rahul Gandhi and Congress party's Indian Overseas chief Sam Pitroda seems to have taken over the legacy of senior Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar who, during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, made a controversial statement about Narendra Modi being a 'chai-wala'.

It was in 2014 when the phenomenon first affected the party when it was battling a spirited charge from Narendra Modi, who spoke of "ache din" and promised a "Congress mukt" India.

File photo of Sam Pitroda

"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," Aiyar had said at the venue of the AICC meeting in January of 2014. This statement gave the BJP a whole new narrative 'chai pe charcha' which connected with Indian voters.

Later, Aiyar repeated the same mistake during the Gujarat Assembly elections, calling the prime minister "neech" - a jibe that could either mean low born or vile. Modi called it a casteist slur, and many political analysts feel that loose remark may have cost Congress the tight battle.

'Completely out of line, must apologise': Rahul Gandhi on Pitroda's 1984 remark'Completely out of line, must apologise': Rahul Gandhi on Pitroda's 1984 remark

Like his party colleague Mani Shankar Aiyar, Pitroda's 'Hua toh hua' comment about the 1984 anti-Sikh riots had the grand old party scampering to control the damage, ahead of the elections in Delhi and Punjab.

Anti-Sikh remarks

On Thursday, Sam Pitroda stirred a hornet's nest by commenting on the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, which has already been made a major election plank by the BJP ahead of the last two phases of election to be held in Delhi and Punjab.

Talking to mediapersons, Sam Pitroda said, "Ab kya hai 1984 ka? Baat to kariye kya kiya inhoney 5 saal mein. Uski baat kariye. 84 mein hua to hua. (Now what is this about 1984? Tell me what did they (BJP government) in the last five years. So what if 1984 (anti-Sikh riots) happened?"

Unfortunately for the Congress, all the seven seats of Delhi face polls on May 12 in the sixth phase, all 13 seats of Punjab will vote in the seventh and last phase on May 19. There is a large presence of Sikhs in these two states who may turn against the Congress. The issue may also influence non-Sikh voters.

The BJP seized on Pitroda's "1984 hua to hua" (it just happened) remarks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi leading the attack. Addressing an election meeting at Rohtak in Haryana, Modi slammed the Congress for its arrogance.

"One of the top Congress leaders said the 1984 riots just happened ('Hua to Hua'). These three words sum up the arrogance of the Congress. The leader is close to the Gandhi family, a good friend of (the late) Rajiv Gandhi and a 'guru' (mentor) of Rahul Gandhi," Modi said without naming Pitroda.

Pitroda adds to Cong headache with 'can't blame pak' remark

Pitroda handed electoral advantage to the BJP on a platter with comments that entire Pakistan can't be blamed for 26/11 and Pulwama terror attacks.

Speaking on the terror attack which killed 40 CRPF personnel in Jammu and Kashmir, Pitroda said "Don't know much about attacks. It happens all the time. Attack happened in Mumbai also, we could have then reacted and just sent our planes but that is not right approach. According to me that's not how you deal with world."

Facing flak, Sam Pitroda apologises for his remark on 1984 anti-Sikh riotsFacing flak, Sam Pitroda apologises for his remark on 1984 anti-Sikh riots

Pitroda said it was not right to "punish" Pakistan because of a few terrorists. "Eight people (26/11 terrorists) come and do something, you don't jump on entire nation (Pakistan). Naive to assume that just because some people came here and attacked, every citizen of that nation is to be blamed. I don't believe in that way," Pitroda said.

Pitroda asks middle class not to be selfish

The Congress distanced itself from the remarks of party leader Sam Pitroda that the middle class should bear part of the cost of the party's flagship Nyay scheme and said the money will be generated by cutting down on wasteful government expenditure as also by mobilizing additional resources.

Pitroda told a news channel that under a Congress government, the middle class will have more opportunities and more jobs and the taxes may go up a little bit.

He also said middle class should not be selfish and have a "big heart".

"How can you see poor people around you and feel that somebody is going to take a 10 paisa from you. That is not India. If you and I have to tighten our belt a little bit, there is nothing wrong with it. They are our cousins, they are our brothers, sisters, and nephews."

Nyay is a major promise in Congress manifesto that entails providing Rs 72,000 crore to the poorest 20 percent people.

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