With just five days to go for the seventh and last phase of elections to the 17th Lok Sabha, senior Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar is back in controversy, claiming his comment on Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2017 was “prophetic".

“Modi will, in any case, be ousted by the people of India by 23 May. That would be a fitting end to the PM. Remember how I described him on 7 December 2017? Was I not prophetic?," Aiyar said in an opinion piece for Rising Kashmir on Monday. (bit.ly/2vWspgL)

In the run-up to the Gujarat assembly elections in December 2017, Aiyar had referred to Modi as a“neech kism ka aadmi" (a vile man) who had no sabhyata (civility). The comment might have helped damage the chances of the Congress, which lost the state election. The Congress suspended the senior leader, but revoked the suspension less than a year later.

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) did not waste any time in attacking the Congress over Aiyar’s latest remarks.

Modi made a veiled reference at an election rally in Balli, Uttar Pradesh. “The people will give a befitting reply through votes to the abuses hurled at me by these ‘mahamilavati’ parties," he said.

The BJP’s national spokesperson G.V.L. Narasimha Rao called Aiyar “abuser-in-chief".

The Congress was also quick to condemn Aiyar’s remark and distanced itself from it. “We completely reject and condemn the remarks of the likes of Mani Shankar Aiyar and every other person who is violating the time-tested principle of self-discipline in political discourse, of mutual respect and adherence to ideas and ideology, and not to verbally abuse while fighting an election, to give due regard even to your worst political enemy, as was shown by Rahul Gandhi on the floor of Parliament," Congress’ chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala told reporters on Tuesday evening. He however accused Modi of lowering the political discourse in the run up to the elections.

However, Aiyar defended his remark. “I have written a full article but you are choosing only one line out of it and asking me to respond. I will not fall in this game," Aiyar told reporters in Shimla.

In his piece, Aiyar had also targeted the National Democratic Alliance government over the Balakot air strikes on terror camps. “Modi needs to be warned that he is guilty of anti-national activity in trying to ride on the sacrifices of our Army and CRPF martyrs in a dirty election campaign; of defaming the Indian Air Force by portraying them as complaisant idiots in his scientific illiteracy; and the Indian Navy as being packed at its highest echelons with traitors who would acquiesce in unauthorized foreigners being allowed to board a top of the line defence vessel," Aiyar wrote.

Polling in 59 Lok Sabha seats, including 13 in Uttar Pradesh, will be held on 19 May. Modi’s Varanasi seat also goes to polls in the last phase.