In a tell-all interview with just days left for the Lok Sabha 2019 polls to begin, Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke exclusively to Republic Media Network's editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami, taking a list of questions which will be key in the forthcoming elections.
During his interaction, he claimed that the Opposition, especially Congress party, has been using the 'chaiwala' term to mock him ever since he became the Prime Minister in 2014. PM Modi suggested that never during his 13-year stay as the Gujarat CM was he ever targeted or attacked using his humble origins.
He began explaining his point by going back in time and speaking about how the term was never used when he was at the helm of Gujarat.
"As far as 'chaiwala' is concerned, I've been a Chief Minister. (I've been) Gujarat longest serving Chief Minister but you never heard about chaiwala or anything about my family. I kept myself far from such things. But when my candidature for the Prime Minister's post was announced, some people out of curiosity, tried finding out about my childhood," the Prime Minister said.
Following that, he explained how the Opposition started to use the 'chaiwala' term against him, even though he feels proud of where he has come.
"So when the chaiwala issue came up, I was a parliamentarian, my party had announced my candidature for Prime Ministership, then the issue came up and suddenly people started abusing me for being a chaiwala. Then with pride I said, yes I come from a humble background, I am from a simple family. I spent my childhood selling tea. I had to say this and so I said it. Otherwise, when I was Chief Minister, neither did I ever talk about it nor did anyone ever raise it," he added.
While in the recent times, the Opposition is taking a dig at the Prime Minister for using 'chowkidar', it was not so long ago that a number of leaders from various parties mocked him as 'chaiwala'.
Infamously in 2014, just ahead of the polls, controversial Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar ridiculed him by saying that he can never be a Prime Minister in actuality.
"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.
In 2018, senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor had also used the term to suggest it showed India's great institutional structures.
"If today we have a chai wala as prime minister, it is because Nehru created the institutional structures through which any Indian can aspire to rise to the highest office of the land," he had said.