New Delhi: The Congress has hurled itself into a new controversy over mocking Prime Minister Narendra Modi as a 'chai-wala'.
On Tuesday, the party's youth wing posted a meme based on a photo of PM Modi, Donald Trump and UK leader Theresa May. The blurbs of dialogue show the PM mispronouncing "meme", being corrected by Mr Trump, and Ms May dismissing the PM by stating, "You stick to selling tea."
The ruling party has said that the offensive post (now deleted) exemplifies the Congress' elitist mindset and that an enraged public will punish it by ensuring the BJP sweeps next month's election in Gujarat.
Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad tweeted, "Madam Sonia Gandhi & Mr Rahul Gandhi do u still believe that only u have a divine right to rule India? Country expects ur response on the tweet of the youth Congress, which is shameful & insulting to poor. U can delete the Tweet but ur thinking towards the poor stands exposed."
Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said the party "strongly disapproves & rejects such humour". His tweet also said, "Differences on policy and opinion aside, Congress culture imbibes respect for PM and all political opponents."
In 2014, ahead of his thunderous victory, Mr Modi was derided as a tea seller who can never be PM by Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar at a huge party gathering. "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," Mr Aiyar infamously said.
In his campaign, Mr Modi, offering his credentials as a self-made leader, stressed the fact that he sold tea as a young child on trains to help support his family. His modest origins helped contrast him with Mr Gandhi, whose role at the centre of the Congress is owed entirely to his last name and the power it wields within the party.