Their anachronistic stand that a woman should change her surname after marriage has feminists railing against them and a minister rebuking them. But actor and wannabe MP Sanjay Dutt as well as wife Manyata have valiantly stuck to their view and picked on Indira Gandhi and her grandaughter Priyanka to further their argument.
Referring to former prime minister Indira Gandhi, Sanjay Dutt, who wants to contest from Lucknow on a Samajwadi Party ticket, said in a television interview: "Girls should use their husband's name after marriage. It is a tradition to keep husband's name. Even Indira Gandhi took her husband's surname."
Manyata added to the debate when she told IANS, “If you can't accept your husband's name and family then why marry? Go in for a live-in relationship.
"Mrs Indira Gandhi was married to Feroz Gandhi, someone not as famous as the Nehrus. But she didn't fight all those glorious battles as 'Indira Nehru'. And now Priyanka calls herself a Vadra after her husband (Robert Vadra), not a Gandhi.”
The surname debate is a spinoff from the escalating feud in the Dutt family between Sanjay and his sister Priya, who uses the Dutt name and is a Congress MP.
"There is only one Mr and Mrs Dutt in our Pali Hill house and that's me and Manyata," Sanjay had said earlier, after Priya Dutt went public with her unhappiness at his decision to join the Samajwadi Party and said that her family had always been with the Congress.
Fighting over the Dutt legacy, Sanjay said: "It's a message to my sisters and all those girls who hang on their parents' surnames; that's become a fashion these days but I feel that disrespects the person they have married."
Reacting to Sanjay's remarks, Women and Child Development Minister Renuka Chowdhury had said that aspiring politicians like him should take some lessons on the constitutional rights of women before thinking of entering parliament.
"Sanjay Dutt played Munnabhai, who believed in Gandhigiri. However, he has forgotten Mahatma Gandhi's lessons in equality. He should live up to the role he played in the film," she said.
"Ram Manohar Lohia, founder of the Samajwadi party that Sanjay Dutt has joined, was against caste. Therefore, most of the former socialists didn't even write their surnames," added Ranjana Kumari, chairperson of the Centre for Social Research.
'Therefore, Dutt's comments on a woman adopting her husband's surname and not her father's after she is married is against his party's ideology," she told IANS.