Kailash Vijayvargiya did it again! And this time the state industries minister joined the list of politicians who have made statements reeking of gender insensitivity at a time when the entire nation is trying to fathom the precarious state of safety and security of women -- manifested so terribly in the Delhi gangrape of December 16, 2012.
When asked to comment on recent sexual harassment cases in the country in general and MP in particular, Vijayvargiya said: "Ek hi shabd hai - maryada. Maryada ka ulanghan hota hai, toh Sita-haran ho jata hai. Laxmanrekha har vyakti ki khichi gayi hai. Us Laxmanrekha ko koi bhi par karega, toh Ravan samne baitha hai… woh Sita-haran karke le jayega". (Roughly translated, this means: If a woman crosses the limits of decency, then she is captured. There is a limit for all. Whoever crosses this line will confront a Ravan who'll take her away)."
The remark triggered a wave of protests in the state as well as nationwide, making the BJP's central leadership nervous. National spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad on Friday said, "The party disassociates itself from the comment and requests him to take it back." Vijayvargiya beat a hasty retreat soon after, at a press conference in Indore. "I did not intend to hurt anyone's sentiments with my comments," he said, adding that he was withdrawing his statement. However, he stuck to the point that a debate was needed on the impact of western culture and underlined the need to ponder over the reasons that are leading to "distortions in society".
The minister has quite a record of making sexist statements and issuing 'advisories' to women. In July 2012, he had said that women should not dress up in a way that provokes men. When the National Women's Commission members had gone to Guwahati to probe the molestation of a girl by a gang of men on July 9, 2012, he had said of the women rights activists -- "as if they were out on a fashion parade."
The minister, however, found support at home, when his wife Asha Vijayvargiya told HT on Friday: "I totally support his views."