The ‘Chaiwala’ remark by Congress leader Shashi Tharoor has precipitated a scorching response by PM Modi who has, while addressing a rally in poll-bound Chhattisgarh, challenged the Congress party to appoint and keep for a period of five years, a party president from outside the Nehru-Gandhi family.
In his speech, in response to Tharoor's remarks that it was only because of Nehru that a 'chaiwala' could become Prime Minister, Narendra Modi took the Congress on.
"If it is because of Pandit Nehru that a Chaiwala became Prime Minister...", PM Modi began, "then once-- just once-- for a period of only 5 years make a good Congressmen from outside your (Gandhi) family the Congress President. If you do it, I will accept that it was Nehru who gave India such democratic principles that any common man could become the Congress President."
He went on to reiterate the challenge, speaking of its larger connotations:
"Let anyone outside the family be made Congress President just once, only for a period of 5 years. I know it will be a good thing for the country if we get out of dynastic set ups. It's essential that it happens for the country. But, they cannot give 1.25 crore Indians credit that a Chaiwala became Prime Minister of India. This is reflective of their anti-democratic mindset. Maybe Nehru should be credited with that too."
The 'chaiwala' attack was renewed in the political spectrum after Shashi Tharoor's statement on November 14, where the Congress leader said, "If today we have chaiwala as Prime Minister, it is because Nehru ji made it possible to create the institutional structures through which any Indian can aspire to and rise to the highest office in the land". He added that "Nehru had great respect for institutions and the vision to lay the foundations for the future of the country."
In response to Tharoor's comment, the BJP took to Twitter and wrote sarcastically, "Minor correction Dr. Tharoor, Nehru is the sole reason why humanity exists. Don’t trivialise his role to mundane matters like making Prime Ministers and all that ;)"