In face of vehement protests for his “sexist and derogatory remarks against women”, Union coal minister Sriprakash Jaiswal apologised on Tuesday. But he said his comments were “taken out of context”.
On Sunday, at a kavi-sammelan in Kanpur, Jaiswal, while discussing corruption including coal block allocations, reportedly said, “Issues are like old wives that lose charm as they grow old”.
The remark stirred a hornet’s nest, with women’s organisations -- cutting across party lines – hitting the road in protest.
In Kanpur, the BJP women’s wing held a march and burnt Jaiswal’s effigy. The CPM followed suit. Mahila Manch president Neelam Chaturvedi said the minister’s comment was derogatory to women.
National Commission of Women chairperson Mamta Sharma said: “What the coal minister said was very wrong. You cannot compare a woman to a victory. In a marriage, as years go by, relations become stronger. He used wrong language for women and he should apologise”.
The commission, she said will not issue any notice to the minister. “But we will be writing to the PM and Congress president Sonia Gandhi," she added.
Cornered by reporters, Jaiswal said he was reacting after India's big T20 victory over Pakistan.
"My remarks have been taken totally out of context,” he said. “I was inaugurating a kavi sammelan when the news of the cricket victory came. The audience was in a celebratory mood, and I said a fresh victory when celebrated is good, is like a new marriage. In the same way, when a marriage becomes old, then the celebrations are not so much.”
Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said, "Since the coal minister has already explained and apologised, the matter should rest there".