Stoking a controversy, senior BJP leader Vinay Katiyar today said there were “more beautiful women star campaigners than Priyanka Gandhi” in his party, provoking a sharp response from the leader who said his ‘sexist’ remarks exposed the saffron party’s mindset towards women.
Congress also took umbrage against Katiyar and demanded an apology for “insulting Indian womanhood”.
Congress said Katiyar’s comments reflected the “petty and insulting culture of BJP that commodifies women” and accused the rival party of insulting India’s womanhood for which Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah should apologise.
Priyanka’s husband Robert Vadra also attacked the BJP leader and demanded that Katiyar publicly apologise for his “misogynistic and atrocious” comments.
Priyanka Gandhi, who played an important role in cobbling together an alliance between Congress and SP for UP Assembly elections, has been named as one of the star campaigners for her party.
Asked about Priyanka being named as a star campaigner by Congress for UP polls, Katiyar said, “It doesn’t matter…
there are girls and women who are more beautiful than her (Priyanka) and are also star campaigners.”
“Some of them are artists and heroines…they are more beautiful than her,” he said, adding that “I think Smriti Irani is beautiful and she is also campaigning”.
Reacting to his statement, Priyanka Gandhi said, “If that’s all BJP sees in my colleagues who are each strong, brave and beautiful women that 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!!!.”
Under attack, Katiyar, later 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.”
The firebrand BJP leader, better known for pushing his Hindutva agenda, said, “I only said beauty does not get votes and what is wrong if someone is beautiful.”
He said, “I respect women and there is no question of apologising.”
Coming down heavily on the firebrand BJP leader, Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said BJP has “insulted” India’s womanhood and such conduct, behaviour and words prove BJP’s mentality
“BJP has insulted India’s womanhood. Such conduct, behaviour and words prove BJP’s mentality. Time for PM Modi and Amit Shah to apologise,” Surjewala said.
Surjewala said BJP-RSS suffer from a “deep rooted and retrograde anti-women mindset. There is a long list led by Mohan Bhagwat and Kailash Vijayvargiya”.
“Disparaging and atrocious remarks of Vinay Katiyar on Priyankaji reflect the petty and insulting culture of BJP that commodifies women.
“To adjudge India’s women by physical features and not by their capacity, capability, strength and sacrifice proves the lowly BJP mentality,” he also said.
The Congress leader also said that if Modi and Shah have any respect left for women, they should display courage by initiating action against Katiyar for his remarks otherwise women will show their power by voting against the BJP in upcoming assembly polls in five states.
Priyanka’s husband Robert Vadra also reacted angrily, saying, “Shocked at misogynist and atrocious remarks of BJP MP Vinay Katiyar saying there were ‘prettier star campaigners’ in his party than Congress’s Priyanka Gandhi Vadra. This exposes the shameful mindset of some of our political leaders.
“We all need to respect women and accept them as equals instead of commoditising and objectifying them. As a society, we need to bring in a change. Vinay Katiyar should publically apologise for his remarks,” Vadra, Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law said in his Facebook post.