Dubbing Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi's comment on women as "childish", information and broadcasting minister Ambika Soni today said he is not "sensitive" towards women.
"The Gujarat chief minister, who claims himself to be one of the best administrators in the world, is giving this kind of childish statement specially against women," Soni told reporters outside Parliament.
Explaining why malnutrition level in the state was persistently high, Modi had said in an interview to Wall Street Journal that "Gujarat is ...a middle class state. The middle class is more beauty conscious that health conscious - that is a challenge. If a mother tells her daughter to have milk they have a fight. She will tell her mother 'I wont drink milk, I will get fat."
Taking on Modi for the comment, Soni said, "There are serious charges against his ministers in his state. He is keeping himself busy in these kind of light matters."
"He is not even sensitive towards women who support their families by sacrificing their food for the sake of their families in Gujarat and now he is saying that women are not eating because they are health conscious. What can be more light statement than this?" she asked and added "I think he is not fit to contest again in Gujarat."
Slamming the statement, women and child development minister Krishna Tirath said Modi "lacks wisdom".
"This is very wrong to say so. Every girl has a right to be health conscious. If anyone thinks it otherwise he lacks wisdom," Tirath said.
Congress MP Girija Vyas was more upfront in her attack on Modi.
Demanding withdrawal of the statement by him, Vyas said "We have serious objection to the statement of Modi and he should withdraw it. It is his duty to eliminate malnutrition in his state."
"Modi is not only hiding the cases of malnutrition but also making mockery of girls. Girls are of course figure conscious what's wrong with it. Today girls are going ahead, it does not mean because of health consciousness they are malnourished," she said.
Reacting to Modi's statement, NCP leader Tariq Anwar said, "I think he (Modi) has given this kind of statement to hide his government's failures in the health sector. It does not behove of a CM to speak like this."
RJD leader Lalu Prasad said Modi should have resigned and apologised to people because his ministers were found guilty in 2002 riot case.
"The main culprit is Modi in Gujarat. These are fascist forces who always keep talking like this. In BJP-ruled Bihar also atrocities against women are rising," he alleged.
Coming to the defence of Modi, BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said, "The whole medical fraternity is discussing the presence of anaemia in not so poor sections of society.
They are discussing various reasons but Congress has a phobia of Modi. That is why whenever it hears the name of Modi it criticises. I can only pity the Congress because wherever they go they are afraid of Modi that is why they criticise him even on non-political subject."