New Delhi, January 10: Congress president Rahul Gandhi came under severe criticism from all quarters after his ‘woman’ remark on Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman at a rally in Jaipur on Wednesday.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had on the same day rebuked the 48-year-old Congress chief for what the latter said in the rally.
While trying to target the PM over the Dassault Rafale deal, Gandhi said that PM Modi got a “woman” to defend him in Parliament.
“The watchman with a 56-inch chest ran away and told a woman, Sitharaman ji, defend me. I won’t be able to defend myself, defend me. For two and a half hours, the woman could not defend him. I had asked a straight question – answer yes or no – but she couldn’t answer,” Rahul said, using the Hindi word ‘mahila’ for a woman, at the rally.
Reacting strongly to Gandhi’s remark on Sitharaman, the PM lambasted the Congress chief for “insulting” the Defence Minister.
“Our defence minister shut the opposition leaders in Parliament and exposed all their lies, so they have resorted to insulting her now. This is an insult to the women in the country,” the PM in his rally in Agra held after Gandhi’s rally.
But Gandhi remained unapologetic. In a response to the PM, he continued his charges on Dassualt Rafale.
“With all due respect Modi Ji, in our culture respect for women begins at home,” he wrote.
“Stop shaking. Be a man and answer my question: Did the Air Force and Defence Ministry object when you bypassed the original Rafale deal? Yes? Or No?” he added.
In spite of his response, Gandhi continued to draw flak for his comment.
According to reports, the National Commission for Women also criticised Gandhi and sent a notice to him for his comment.
“We’ve asked explanation from Rahul Gandhi for why he said what he said yesterday in tweets. The statement was pathetic, sexist and misogynistic. That’s why we’ve sent him a notice. He has to explain what does he mean when he is trying to talk low of women,” NCW chairperson Rekha Sharma was quoted as saying by ANI on Thursday.
Taking a jibe at Gandhi today, Union Textiles minister Smriti Irani called him a misogynist.
“Rahul-ji’s self-esteem has been hurt so he lost his patience. How did an ordinary woman dare to challenges Rahul? #MisogynistRahul,” she wrote on Twitter.
BJP chief Amit Shah too hit out at Gandhi and demanded an apology.
“Defence Minister @nsitharaman’s outstanding speech in Parliament has silenced the opposition. Unable to counter her on facts, they’re resorting to misogyny. They owe an apology to India’s Nari Shakti,” he tweeted.
On Thursday, people criticised Gandhi using the hashtag #BeAMan
“#BeAMan Shocking that Rahul Gandhi would use such derogatory words for India’s Defence Minister, just because she happens to be a woman, and follow it up with more cussedness. Real men don’t disrespect women!” wrote BJP I-T Cell chief Amit Malviya.
“#BeAMan @RahulGandhi You are wrong to call Women weak! In fact, this 50% of the world is the creator of other 50% Rahul Gandhi must apologise to @nsitharaman Ji,” wrote Manjinder Singh Sirsa, the Shiromani Akali Dal MLA from Delhi.
“#RahulSexistComment on India’s Defence Minister @nsitharaman is disgraceful and is an insult to every Indian Woman. Nirmala Sitaraman is an MA M.Phil and has worked for Price water coopers What is clown Prince education Credentials #BeAMan,” wrote Shobha Karandlaje, the BJP MP from Udupi n Karnataka. (Agencies)