January 26, 2017 12:28:20 am
SENIOR BJP leader Vinay Katiyar kicked up a political row on Wednesday with his remarks that the BJP has “more beautiful” star campaigners than Priyanka Vadra. While Priyanka said his comment “exposes the BJP’s mindset” and the Congress went on the offensive, the BJP distanced itself from Katiyar’s remarks. Asked about the Congress naming Priyanka as a star campaigner for the Uttar Pradesh polls, Katiyar was quoted as saying, “Usse kya farak padta hai? Unse jyada to bahut si sundar aur mahilaayen, ladkiyan jo star campaigners hain…. heroine hain, wo jyada (sundar) hain… (What difference does it make? There are other women who are more beautiful than her, who are star campaigners… some are heroines…they are more beautiful…)” He added: “I think Smriti Irani is beautiful and she is also campaigning”.
Reacting to his remarks, Priyanka said in a statement: “He is right… they do… And if that’s all he sees in my colleagues who are each strong, brave and beautiful women who have battled through all sorts of hardships to get where they are, then he makes me laugh even more. Because he exposes the BJP’s mindset towards the better half of the population of India.”
Stating that the “BJP has insulted India’s womanhood”, Congress communication department head Randeep Surjewala demanded an apology from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah. The BJP was quick to distance itself from Katiyar’s remarks with Information and Broadcasting Minister M Venkaiah Naidu saying that nobody was expected to make personal comments, particularly about women, and the BJP does not subscribe to his views. “I hope he didn’t mean what he said,” said Poonam Mahajan, BJP MP and president of the party’s Yuva Morcha. “The BJP’s mindset is about ensuring maximum representation of women in Cabinet.”
Speaking to The Indian Express, Katiyar, however, defended his remarks. “Sundarta ki tareef kar di to isme buraai kya hai (What is wrong if I praised beauty)? I was told that Congressmen have said Priyanka is beautiful… and hence they will get votes. I said that being beautiful alone does not work, talent is needed, other things are also needed. I said there are many (beautiful women) in our party as well. So what is the problem? One who is talented will fetch votes. I only said this…”
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“Sundar ko agar sundar kah diya gaya to isme kya aapatti hai. Sundar ke alawa agar kuchh kaha jaata to samajh me aata, kuch hum opposite bolte, kahin kuch aur bolte to samajh me aata tha (What is the objection if someone who is beautiful has been called beautiful. If I had said something else, something opposite, then it would have been understandable),” he said.
“I have huge respect for women… I haven’t said anything wrong. I was only replying to a journalist’s question. Priyanka is like my niece,” he later said. “I only said beauty does not get votes and what is wrong if someone is beautiful… I respect women and there is no question of apologising.” Priyanka’s husband Robert Vadra said he was shocked at Katiyar’s “misogynist and atrocious remarks”. “Katiyar should publicly apologise for his remarks,” he said.
“Disparaging and atrocious remarks of Vinay Katiyar on Priyanka reflect the petty and insulting culture of BJP that commodifies women… Time for PM Modi and Amit Shah to apologise,” said Surjewala. Speaking on the issue during an interaction at the Indian Women’s Press Corps, Naidu said, “I do not know who made this comment. I saw Vinay Katiyar and Sharad Yadav’s names on TV. Nobody is expected to make any personal comments, particularly on women. We do not approve at all. The party does not approve and appreciate any such comments.”
Asked about Vadra’s demand for an apology, Naidu said: “Who is he? We will see what exactly he has said. I am not justifying anything at all. But these people who are criticising, they have no moral right. They called Narendra Modi names like Hitler, Mussolini, Gaddafi…”
— Inputs from Liz Mathew
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