At an election rally in Dharampur in Gujarat on Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi referred to a statement by Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar in which he claimed Aiyar had compared the Congress to the Mughal dynasty. Quoting Aiyer, the prime minister said, “… Shriman Mani Shankar Aiyar e aaje kahyu chhe, ke Jahangir ki jagah jab Shahjahan aaye, kya tab election hua tha? Jab Shahjahan ki jagah par Aurangzeb aye, tab kya koi election hua tha? Yeh to pehli se hi pata tha, ki jo badshah hai uski aulad ko hi satta milegi. Iska matlab ye hua ki Congress ke varisht neta yeh khud mante hai ki Congress party, ye party nahin hai, kunba hai, aur unka kisi ka satta ka matlab pe aane ka matlab hai, ki badshah ki aulad ka bethna. Yeh Aurganzeb raj, unko mubarak.”
(“Mani Shankar Aiyar has said, ‘When Shahjahan took the place of Jahangir, was any election held then? When Aurangzeb succeeded Shahjahan, was any election held then? This was always known, that the heir to the emperor will inherit power.’ This means that eminent leaders of the Congress themselves admit the Congress, it is not a party but a family and for them to come to power means to coronate the emperor’s heir. I congratulate the Congress on Aurangzeb Raj.”)
Modi was referring to a sound byte given by Aiyar to news channel ABP News on the nomination process for the election to the post of Congress president. (Rahul Gandhi filed his nomination on Monday and is set to be elected unopposed.) The Bharatiya Janata Party’s information technology cell head Amit Malviya tweeted this video with the text “Mani Shankar Aiyar does it again! Compares Congress rule with Mughal Raj”.
So, did Aiyar compare the presidential election within the Congress to Mughal succession? Watch the full video of what he said here:
“Ek to, jab Jahangir ke jagah Shahjahaan aaye, tab koi election hua? Jab Shahjahaan ke jagah Aurganzaeb aaye, tab koi election hua? Nai. Pehle se pata tha, ki jo bhi badshaah hai, unke aulaad jo hai, woh hi banenge, woh bhi banenge, aapas mein lade to alag baat hai. Lekin, democracy mein chunaav hota hai, aur Shehzaad Punawala ko amantran mein de raha hoon, ki aapko yahaan aake khada hona ho to aap pahonch jaiye, application dijiye, aapne kabhi Shehzad Poonawala ka naam pehle kabhi suna tha?”
(“When Shahjahan took the place of Jahangir, was any election held then? When Aurangzeb succeeded Shahjahan, was any election held then? This was always known that the heir to the emperor will inherit power, although it is another matter if the successors fight among themselves. But, in a democracy, elections are held. I invite [Congress functionary] Shehzad Poonawala to come and file an application to contest the election.”)
It is clear from the video that Aiyar did not draw a parallel between the Mughals and the Congress. However, that did not prevent prominent BJP functionaries from tweeting this incomplete video.
While Aiyar is known to have made some controversial statements in the past, including the infamous chaiwala remark, this is a definite instance of an incomplete statement being quoted out of context for political motives. Aiyar’s statement highlighting the difference between the party’s presidential election and dynastic rule under the Mughals was mischievously clipped and given credence to by none other than the prime minister. The Congress leader’s line that the process of electing the party president is democratic was conveniently glossed over to suit a particular narrative.
This article first appeared on Alt News.