Mani Shankar Aiyar's dinner attended by former army chief, ex-diplomats
The Gujarat elections' slugfest has veered in a different direction after Congress's Mani Shankar Aiyar called PM Narendra Modi a "neech" (low-life) person. In recent developments, while addressing a Palanpur rally, Modi claimed that Pakistan, with Aiyar's collusion, was interfering in the polls. He was referring to a dinner that Aiyar hosted for Pakistan's former foreign affairs minister, Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri. Here's more!
What did PM Modi allege?
Modi alleged that Pakistan was interfering in Gujarat polls. These allegations were based on a dinner hosted at Aiyar's house. Few Pakistani diplomats congregated with some Congress leaders. Modi said after this dinner, Aiyar made the "neech" remark. He declared this "a serious matter." Further, Modi was referring to former Pakistan Army D-G Sardar Rafiq reportedly appealing that Ahmed Patel be made Gujarat CM.
What was this meeting that Modi was referring to?
The dinner meeting hosted by Aiyar lasted for around three hours. It was attended by former Army chief Deepak Kapoor, former foreign minister K Natwar Singh and former diplomats like Salman Haider and TCA Raghavan, among others. Most diplomats had served as Indian high commissioners to Pakistan. Former PM Manmohan Singh and former V-P Hamid Ansari were also present.
How are the meeting's participants connected to each other?
The dinner was for "those who have known Kasuri or served in Pakistan as diplomats." Host Aiyar has been actively involved in track II diplomacy efforts with Pakistan. Track II diplomacy involves informal activities among private citizens and NGOs. He also served as consul general in Karachi. Kasuri was Pervez Musharraf's foreign minister and was involved in Kashmir's diplomatic efforts during Manmohan Singh's term.
What was the dinner meeting about?
Those present at the meeting insisted that it was a private event to discuss India-Pakistan ties and was not "linked to domestic politics one way or other." The conversation was apparently restricted to terrorism, Hafiz Saeed and Kashmir.
Meanwhile, will Congress suffer because of these slip-ups?
Though Aiyar has since been suspended from Congress, it wasn't before Modi had picked up his gaffes. The politically astute Modi has been spinning the "dinner meeting" asking people "Aren't these developments worrisome?" He asked Congress to clarify why its leaders were meeting with Pakistan diplomats. Will this turn out to be Modi's knock-out punch in Gujarat? Let's wait and watch!