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HindustanTimes Fri,18 Apr 2014

Was misquoted on Modi tea stall comment: Aiyar

HT Correspondent and Agencies, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, January 17, 2014
First Published: 15:23 IST(17/1/2014) | Last Updated: 16:37 IST(17/1/2014)

Senior Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar on Friday said that he was misquoted on a comment about Bharatiya Janata Party's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi adding that he will not apologise.

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"I promise you in the 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 All India Congress Committee meeting in New Delhi.

Later he refused to apologise and also blasted the media for twisting his words.

"It is Modi who keeps bringing to the fore his background of being a tea stall owner while making a pitch to the people of India for the elections. Therefore, I just said that Modi will never be the Prime Minister of India, but if he wants, we can set up a tea stall for him here," Aiyar told CNN IBN.

"Modi has demonstrated that he doesn't know our history, our Constitution and our laws. He has a development model that is not inclusive of Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe and minorities," he added.

He was criticised by Congress ally and Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah for mocking Modi's 'humble' origins on Twitter.

"Modi has a lot of negatives but his humble origins are a positive some of us can't claim. We aren't helping our campaign by mocking him," posted Abdullah.

Modi had referred to his humble origins while targeting the Gandhi family during an election rally in Patna last year.

Modi had said that people who are ruling at the Centre "don't know what poverty is all about, but I know about it." He had said that he was born in a poor family and has seen and lived in poverty.

"I have sold tea at the railway station and in running trains... those who sell tea in trains know more about railways than the minister," Modi had said.

When he was six years old, Modi helped his father sell tea to passengers whenever an odd train came into the small Vadnagar station in Gujarat, according to a book The anatomy of Narendra Modi -- The man and his politics by Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay.

His background was also commented upon by Samajwadi Party leader Naresh Agarwal who had said that that a person who used to sell tea cannot have a national perspective.

"Narendra Modi wants to become a PM. Someone rising from a tea shop can never have a national perspective. Like, if you make a 'sipahi' (constable) as 'kaptan' (superintendent of police), he can never have SP's approach but will have that of a constable," Agarwal had said in Hardoi in Uttar Pradesh.

(With PTI inputs)

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