Earlier in the day, Aiyar said, "He (Modi) is "neech kism ka aadmi" (a vile man) who has no "sabhyata" (civility)", attacking Modi after the latter accused the Congress of seeking votes in B R Ambedkar's name but trying to erase his contribution to building India. Congress has a different culture and heritage.
The Gandhi scion said, "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", Gandhi said. Let them keep calling me "Neech" we will not respond. "People will answer them through the ballot box".
Reacting to Aiyar's remark, Congress President-to-be Rahul Gandhi on Thursday asked the senior leader to apologise for what he had said.
"Why was PM taking a jibe at Congress and Rahul Gandhi at the inauguration of Ambedkar International Centre? This is nothing but a mindset that of the Mughals", PM Modi said. "Have I done any "neech" work in my public life", he asked BJP workers at a Surat rally.
"This person is a "neech aadmi" (low-minded). But in Hindi if low means low-born, then I tender apology", he told reporters. "I never called Modi a low born". These are some words or phrases the Congress has used for PM Modi in the past. In English there's a clear distinction between "low" and "low born". Whatever I say they want to misinterpret.
Wading into the controversy, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said Aiyar's "neech" remark displayed a mindset that only one elite family can be a ruler and the rest are only the "neech".
He had, in January 2014, before the Modi-wave took the nation by surprise, said "Modi would never become prime minister, but he was welcome to serve tea to Congressmen". "However, if my language has caused damage to the Congress party in Gujarat, I apologise, I apologise for using a word which can be interpreted into some other meaning".
"If you are unsure of the language or facts, then you are unfit to be in politics", he said.