On the day he was inducted into the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), former Samajwadi Party leader Naresh Agrawal revealed the reason why he left the ‘cycle’ and grabbed the ‘lotus’. But his ‘revelation’ created a controversy.
Agrawal said at a press conference on Monday that his stature in Akhilesh Yadav’s party was equated to those who “dance and work in films”, referring to SP leader Jaya Bachchan.
Even BJP leaders, including External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Textiles Minister Smriti Irani, condemned the remark. Agrawal expressed regret for his remarks on Tuesday, but the outrage continued.
Shri Naresh Agarwal has joined Bhartiya Janata Party. He is welcome. However, his comments regarding Jaya Bachhan ji are improper and unacceptable.
— Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) March 12, 2018
Agarwal is however not the first leader to issue such crass remarks. In the last 10 years, objectionable remarks against women have been issued with impunity by leaders of all hues.
Reacting to Jaya Prada’s remark that the character of Alauddin Khilji reminds her of him, SP leader Azam Khan said, “How will I concentrate on work if I engage with someone who entertains people with song and dance?”
“Women are impure during menstruation. Women cannot enter temples during this period,” said then interim president of the Kerala Congress M M Hasan at a seminar on ‘Media and Politics’. Following criticism, he defended himself by claiming that both Hindu and Muslim women refrain from entering temples and mosques, respectively, on their own during periods. “I only said (about) the social condition prevailing in the society,” he had said.
While congratulating Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for tackling terrorism on her soil, Prime Minister Narendra Modi triggered an international wave of criticism for his comments at Dhaka University during his two-day visit to the country.
“The world has still not found a solution on how to tackle terrorism. Even the UN is not in a position to provide guidance. I am happy that the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, despite being a woman, is boldly saying that she has zero tolerance for terrorism. I would like to congratulate Sheikh Hasina for her courage to deal with terrorism with zero tolerance,” he said.
He was criticised for the “despite being a woman” remark and the hashtag #despitebeingawoman trended for several days on Twitter.
Trinamool Congress MP Tapas Pal was heard saying in a video, “I am from Chandannagar. I am also a goonda. I will shoot you guys if a Trinamool Congress worker is ever attacked. If you insult the mothers and daughters of Trinamool workers, I won’t spare you. I will let loose my boys in your homes and they will commit rape.”
Following uproar, Pal denied that he used the word ‘rape’. “What I said was I will tell my workers to ‘raid’,” he said.
Then Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav triggered an outrage when he said the boys “commit mistakes” while opposing capital punishment for rape.
Speaking at an election rally in Moradabad, he had said, “Ladke, ladke hain. Galti ho jati hai? Kya rape case mein phasi di jayegi? (Boys are boys. Mistakes happen sometimes. Should rape cases be punished with hanging?)”
RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat stirred a hornet’s nest in Indore in Madhya Pradesh by claiming that a wife is duty-bound to serve the husband.
“A husband and wife are involved in a contract under which the husband has said that you should take care of my house and I will take care of all your needs. I will keep you safe. So, the husband follows the contract terms. Till the time, the wife follows the contract, the husband stays with her, if the wife violates the contract, he can disown her,” he was quoted as saying by the TOI.
“There’s just one word – morality. Whenever it is violated, Sita suffers. When people cross their limits, it leads to (moral) deterioration,” said Kailash Vijayvargiya at Indore in Madhya Pradesh while reacting to the rise in crimes against women. He was then a minister in the Madhya Pradesh cabinet and is currently the national general secretary of the BJP.
Congress leader Digvijaya Singh called former Congress leader Meenakshi Natarajan “sau tanch maal”.
“Our party MP, Meenakshi Natrajan, is a Gandhian, simple and an honest leader. She keeps going from place to place in her constituency. I am a seasoned smith of politics. Meenakshi sau tunch maal hai,” he told a gathering of party workers in Mandsaur.
He later threatened TV channels with legal action for wrongly reporting the issue and claimed that his remark meant that Natarajan was like “pure gold”. Nevertheless, he was criticised by the BJP.
Sanjay Nirupam, as national spokesperson of the Congress, had insulted Smriti Irani on a TV debate.
“Aap to TV pe thumke lagati thi,aaj chunavi visleshak ban gayi! (You used to perform dance shows on TV, and now you have become a psephologist!),” he said.
Irani had filed a defamation case against Nirupam, which, she said on Monday had been pending for the last five years.
My case is in the court of law for 5 years now. But let my battle not be an excuse to humiliate other women. In fact let it be a reminder for us that when a woman’s honour is challenged we stand as one in our condemnation irrespective of our politics. https://t.co/beneLYVHnk
— Smriti Z Irani (@smritiirani) March 12, 2018
Abhijit Mukherjee, son of then President Pranab Mukherjee, had called women protesting against the Delhi gang-rape “dented and painted”.
“It is becoming fashionable to land up on the streets with candle in hand. Such people have no connection with ground reality. I am very well versed with student activism and I can bet on it that most of the protesters are not students. They are dented and painted women chasing two minutes of fame,” he said.
He later apologised for his remark.
TMC leader Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar claimed that the Park Street gang-rape was not a rape but a deal gone wrong.
“They (the Park Street rape and Delhi gang rape) are totally different. The incident at Park Street was not a rape at all. It was a misunderstanding between two parties involved in professional dealing — a woman and her client,” she reportedly told a private television channel.
Another TMC leader, Madan Mitra, had then said: “What was a divorced, mother of two doing alone in a bar after midnight?”
Mulayam Singh Yadav (yes, again) had opposed the Women’s Reservation Bill on the grounds that it will not benefit rural women because they are not attractive.
“Bade bade gharon ki ladkiya aur mahilayan kewal upar ja sakti hain…yaad rakhna…apko mauka nahi milega…hamare gaon ki mahila me akarshan itna nahin…” (Only girls and women from affluent class can go forward…remember this…you (rural women) will not get a chance…Our rural women do not have that much attraction),” he said at a rally in Barabanki.
Congress leader and then coal minister Sriprakash Jaiswal said compared India’s victory over Pakistan in the World T20 to marriage in Kanpur.
“Nayi nayi jeet aur nayi nayi shaadi, iska apna alag mahatva hota hai… jaise jaise samay beetega..jeet ki yaadein purani hoti jayegi; jaise jaise samay beet-ta hai, patni purani hoti chali jati hai, vo maza nahi rehta hai,” he said. Basically, Jaiswal said that a new victory and a new marriage have a uniqueness of their own. Just like a wife loses her charm with time, the memories of a victory grow old.
He, too, apologised but claimed that his comment had been taken out of context.
Narendra Modi, who was then the Chief Minister of Gujarat, attacked Shashi Tharoor over an IPL controversy through his then wife Sunanda Pushkar.
“Wah kya girlfriend hai. Apne kabhi dekha hai 50 crore ka girlfriend? (Wow, what a girlfriend. Have you ever seen a 50-crore girlfriend?),” Modi said at an election rally.
Tharoor reacted to the remark by commenting: “My wife is worth a lot more than your imaginary 50 crores. She is priceless. But you need2be able2love some1 2understand that”.
Mulayam Singh Yadav, who has always been opposing the Women’s Reservation Bill, claimed that if passed it would “invite cat-calls and whistles”.
According to IANS, when asked to comment on the women’s reservation bill, he told a TV channel: “If the women’s reservation bill were to be passed in its existing form, it would result in flooding the parliament and state legislatures with wives of government officials and women connected with big industrial houses, thereby provoking young men to indulge in eve-teasing.”
Then Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit had reacted, rather shockingly, to the murder of journalist Soumya Viswanathan by claiming that she shouldn’t have been “too adventurous”.
“All by herself till 3 am at night in a city where people believe…you know…you should not be so adventurous,” Dikshit was quoted as saying by TOI. The comment angered Delhi.