Narendra Modi
Narendra ModiReuters

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi recently made a controversial statement, referring India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to a 'nightwatchman', which could be taken as an insult not only to Prime Ministerial post but also to chowkidars across the country.

Narendra Modi, one of BJP's prospective prime ministerial candidates, made a remark on 3 March without naming Manmohan Singh that the Congress had appointed a 'nightwatchman', an economist, to keep the first family of the party safe.

The BJP leader didn't name anybody but it's obvious that he was referring to the PM's rapport with the Gandhi family and the possibility of making Congress President Sonia Gandhi's son Rahul Gandhi as the the party's next prime ministerial candidate.

The statement has not gone down too well with a Congress leader, who has served notice to the Gujarat CM to apologise for the remark on the PM, warning that he would file a defamation case against him if he fails to do so.

"...Modi should do it (apologise or withdraw remarks) within three days of receipt of the notice... failing which I will file a private complaint against him before Chief Metropolitan Magistrate here for offence of defamation," PTI quoted K K Benson, a former Pradesh Congress Member, as saying.

He said that calling the PM a 'nightwatchman' is an insult to much-respected Prime Minister's post.

Interestingly, many see Narendra Modi as a prospective prime ministerial candidate for BJP, and several media houses have pitted him against Rahul Gandhi for Prime Minister's post.

In cricketing term, 'nightwatchman' is referred to a cricketer (mostly bowlers) who is sent in to bat towards the end of day's innings to secure wickets for the next day. The job of a 'nightwatchman' is to help the main batsman, so it is not a pleasant term as such.

'Nightwatchman' can also mean real-life nightwatchmen, who are known as chowkidars.

Narendra Modi's reference could be taken as an insult by the chowkidars who play a major role in ensuring the safety of the people at night as policemen can't provide security to every nook and corner of the country. He is meant chowkidars, he is undermining dignity of labour.