New Delhi: As malicious messages circulated on social media about the “death” of senior Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar, the controversial politician Saturday said he is “very much alive” and busy campaigning for the Lok Sabha elections.
For a leader who always manages to stay in the headlines, Aiyar has been conspicuous by his absence in the Lok Sabha campaign so far, causing his critics and trolls to circulate messages about his “death”.
Aiyar told ThePrint he had heard about the rumours, including the “Balokot one”, which claimed that he had been killed in the Indian Air Force air strike in Pakistan on 26 February.
“With deep regret I have to say this for all those who were hoping I’d be dead that I am very much alive,” Aiyar said.
The Congress leader said that he had been campaigning for the party in the south, and will now be heading to Prayagraj and Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh. However, he clarified that he has not been given any official election responsibility by the party.
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The senior politician, for better or worse, is fairly popular among Congress rivals with his comments often paving way for the party to be lampooned.
After his infamous ‘chaiwala’ remark about Prime Minister Narendra Modi ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections — which the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had used for its election campaign — he found himself in trouble again in 2017 for making a jibe at the prime minister before the Gujarat elections, referring to him as “neech aadmi”.
The comment was seen as a casteist attack on Modi who comes from the OBC community.
His remark had faced criticism, even from then Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi.
“BJP and PM routinely use filthy language to attack the Congress party. The Congress has a different culture and heritage. I do not appreciate the tone and language used by Mr Mani Shankar Aiyar to address the PM. Both the Congress and I expect him to apologise for what he said,” Gandhi had said at the time.
BJP and PM routinely use filthy language to attack the Congress party. The Congress has a different culture and heritage. I do not appreciate the tone and language used by Mr Mani Shankar Aiyer to address the PM. Both the Congress and I expect him to apologise for what he said.
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) December 7, 2017
The remarks were exploited by the BJP, leading to Aiyar’s suspension from the Congress. He was reinstated into the party after nine months.
Social media rumours
This Lok Sabha election, with Aiyar not making it to the news cycle, the social media has been buzzing with theories surrounding his “disappearance”.
Many Twitter users, including BJP Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy, have made statements on Aiyar’s absence in the campaign.
On Friday, after a Twitter user named Suresh Ramamurthy asked Swamy if Aiyar had died in IAF’s “balaji bombing”, Swamy said, “Only Mani Shankar Aiyar can tell us for sure by announcing that news of his death has been vastly exaggerated”.
: Only Mani Shankar Aiyar can tell us for sure by announcing that news of his death has been vastly exaggerated
— Subramanian Swamy (@Swamy39) April 26, 2019
Another Twitter account, with the username Chowkidar Sunil Yadkikar, wondered about Aiyar’s absence after the Balakot strikes.
Has anyone Heard or Seen Congress Spokeperson Mani Shankar Aiyer, Live after the Balakhot Air Strike !
Where is Mani Shankar Aiyer?#manishankaraiyar
@ZeeNewsHindi @republic @Republic_Bharat @abpnewstv @RubikaLiyaquat @CNNnews18 @timesofindia
— Suneel Yadkikar 💙 (@suneelyadkikar) April 26, 2019
Also read: After Rahul Gandhi letter on NYAY, Congress now gets Priyanka to push scheme with message
‘BJP doesn’t understand Tamil’
Aiyar, however, remained unperturbed by the frenzy.
“I regret to inform my ill-wishers in the Hindutva movement that I am alive and kicking, not killed at Balakot nor dead as they hope,” said Aiyar.
“In fact, I cannot possibly breathe my last till I have seen Modi kicked out of office by the people of India. Only then could I rest in peace.”
When asked if Congress has asked him to stay mum, he said, “The problem with the BJP is it doesn’t understand Tamil. So, they were not able to follow me. Since the last week of March till third week of April, I was in the south.”
The senior Congress leader also said he has not been given any election campaign related responsibility.
“As far as election campaign is concerned, I was suspended for nine months during the Gujarat elections when Mr Modi twisted what I said. I was suspended without any explanation,” he said.
“I was served a show cause notice and asked not to respond to it. My suspension was revoked after nine months and since then I have not been given any election responsibility,” he said.
The former Union minister said that as far as his constituency was concerned, “it was surrendered to the DMK (Congress ally Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam)”.
“In the last week of March and then April, I was first in Mayiladuthurai, then there was a joint rally by Congress and DMK in Nagarcoil which had Stalin. I was then in Calicut (Kozhikode) to receive Mr Rahul Gandhi,” said Aiyar.
“Following this, I was in Wayanad and Kalpetta when the Congress president filed his nomination,” Aiyar added, saying he also canvassed in Wayanad.
He added that party ally Indian Union Muslim League had asked him to speak at a couple of rallies in areas around Kozhikode and Mallapuram.
“I am now headed for Allahabad (Prayagraj) and Lucknow to campaign for my party,” he said.
Asked to comment on the Congress Lok Sabha campaign, Aiyar said it’s resonating among the people. “I still believe that BJP and Modi will not be able to come back.”
When prodded on the question of whether Gandhi will be the next prime minister, he responded by saying, “Inshallah”.
Meanwhile, Congress MP Rajeev Gowda criticised the conspiracy theories afloat on Twitter, calling it a result of dumbing down of “educated Indians with the BJP constantly feeding fake and doctored videos and claims”.
“I had met him recently and he has been in the south for the past few weeks. Sad that social media comes up with such theories,” Gowda told ThePrint.
Also read: Congress plans ‘massive’ Delhi rally with Manmohan Singh as star campaigner
Manishankar tum jinda ho ya mar gaye.
Let Mr. Mani Shanker come on TV and clarify. There are many Tamil speaking BJP supporters.
Very sad to hear he is still alive.
Why are you in hiding? If you are alive, live like alive. Come out & face the world. Face your karma.
The great print
If you are giving this news then let us know where he is. Let come on tv media make an announcement that he is alivekss
Expected news may come after the results are out. Or it could remain as a misery as the congress would preffer to keep away from the man who was instrumental for its pathetic defeat in 2014
Why doesn’t he take a video and post on twitter.
There is no twitter in hell
How he can respond?
Bring your self in public domain.
Good to hear, he is alive but surprised he is campaigning in south for 2019 Lok Sabha Election, but no media coverage ? very surprising such a senior most leader of Congress. or might be campaigning underground !!!!
The print is a bull shit news and please spare your another lie . You have been spreading hatred in India
As well as world , your news and reply is a trash like your news
Please make sure mani Shanker comes on tv or some show where we can see him and don’t talk rubbish by saying BJP does not understand Tamil
Understand all languages except print language which is not worth reading
This is a fake article. Because there was no photos. Even the people in his constituency have not seen him after balakot strike. He is definitely perished in the balakot strike alongwith other terrorists. Actually though his family migrated to India after partition many of their relatives got converted and stayed back. And many of them are in higher positions in porki govt. So he was very close to them and they made him a mole in Indian side. That is the reason why he wasd visiting porkistan every now and then. I am suure he was in balakot camp when IAF hit it
Foolish article, communal as well. Even muslims don’t like this view because this create more and bigger holes between two societies. Come on ‘The Print’ your this ideology even help to re elect Mr. Modi which I think you people don’t want.
Was he made underground as to not campaign
Mani nipat chuka hai otherwise congress should give proof
I was also following the news of all south channels but no where a glimps of Ayair , what o talk about RH filing nominations. All are bullshit being circulated by congress party. If they are so concerned about the news are they sleeping till now. We want proof of this man alive and voting is already over in south so he must surface on up now.
“When prodded on the question of whether Gandhi will be the next prime minister, he responded by saying, “Inshallah”.”
Mani Shankar Aiyar was born in Pakistan. His family lived there. from his answer it appears he had converted to Islam. So there was no threat to his life & limb in Pakistan. So he is fake refugee.
But he was dismissed from congress I suppose… Than why mr. Gandhi is clarifying about his existence?
BJP is more Tamil than shani manker Iyer can ever be. The man can’t even talk proper Tamil leave alone campaigning!! He was always in Pakistan ooops Delhi.
instead giving statements and photos live videos of Mr Manishankar should be shown in all medias to assure his followers that he is alive.
this is just a message written by some one. show the proof , show a video with a date! show his finger that he voted for DMK
Ask him to come in front of camera.
Thanks for being in south India and good for you to observe silence, Unfortunately your wish can not be granted of Modiji kicked out of office.
Certainly shri Modiji will some day retire on his own will .
As you plan to breath too long for your dream it is best you are forgotten .
Congress should have dismissed you till your last breath , however your return to congress indicates congress being no more of Nehruji , shastriji and Indiraji’s congress . SAD
I live in Tamil Nadu. I watch almosst all Tamil News Channels. To my knowledge no one ever reported campaigning in Tamil or for that matter in English in any constituency or any TV channel. The print media too did not report any event.
Looks like an imaginary interview and quote just to get published.
If The Print is genuine news or opinion interest it should fact check first by googling Tamil Nadu election campaign for TV and news media for Mani Shankar Aiyar in April 2019.
BJP claims he was at BALAKOT camp hob-bobbing with the terrorists on the day of the strike. If he still surfaces in Indua, what does it prove?That our BALAKOT claims of killings are all pure bull!!!
Either Mani shd show up dead or BJP should withdraw its calumny of Mani being there on the fateful night or stop chest-thumping abt BALAKOT killings.
Remember Bro Print has not posted any proof how do I believe.
Sahi Pakde Hai
Very sorry to hear you are still alive, Shani Iyer
I am very sad yo know that he is still alive. However, I am eagerly waiting for his next comment, after Chaiwala and Neech Aadmi.
Please come back to main stream politics, Mani. It’s looks boring without your funny and shameless comments.
This man uses officials in the central government during NDA rule to full extend. He helped his known lady came to UAE on a visit out of the way by even ordering the embassy officials to go and meet the lady. This was during Vajpayee time. What he talks outside is different.
Wow Mr, Anti national, may having terrorism DNA still alive,?I request u please do campaign again still 2 phases of elections are there and if you give speech again BJP will whitewash all opponents, please please give speech for the sake of BJP and making Our country CONGRESS mukt
Whatever be the differences in our political outlook never wish for physical harm to our opponents. Democracy is all about different views along with freedom of responsible speech healthy debates and rule of law.
Oh ! He is alive? But, No low and cheap abuse of Modi. NO calling names. No ridiculing of Modi. No pseudo secular gems. No praise of Pakistan. No gushing encomiums to Rahul. PGV & Sonia. Are Bhai. ( For Iyer) Yeh bhi koi jeena hai?
I would read his columns on the NDTV site. Always good in a democracy to have discordant, dissenting voices.
He should seriously think why so many want….By saying inshallah he means with the help of Muslim votes Rahul become PM..and you elitist in “the print” media call BJ P communal..u think the Muslims are fools and they will allow to be used as vote Banks..times have changed..
A Leopard never changes its spots.
Manufacturing date may not be fixed, but every one has a fixed expiry date. It is neither in the hands of those want MSA, in his hands or a reader who expect him to wait until 2024. When a person is not in public why some people are dragging MSA, allow him to do his like some of the committed BJP leaders are doing for their party’s success.
It would be interesting to know how he managed to escape from Balakot. If he writes a reminiscence of the incident, it would be a best seller.
I am from his constituency in two Loksabha elections I.e.MAYILADUTHURAI.I have not seen him in any of the meetings with Stalin as he claims.Let him produce one vdo where he is campaigning in South.It is a fact that even in TN other than his constituency nobody knows him.His Tamil is also very poor.
Congress has locked him up , never know what he may come up with after chaiwala and neech 😀😀😀
He was probably in the one building that the missile failed to hit.
Maai Sankara Aiyyar did not get his Security Deposit in the Last Last Loksabha Elections.. He was Fourth Person .. His wish of Dying in Peace will not get fulfilled till 2024.
In South, he was not seen anywhere. 😊 He has just ensured his long life, by tying his death to Modi being removed from the prime ministers job. Mani Shankar has been BJP ‘s star campaigner 😂 and he is being missed by BJP so that they can get a push for their campaign. Congress got a high 10 seats in TamilNadu and Mani still did not get a seat.
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