Foot-in-mouth sexist edition: Five politicians who shamed the country

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Apr 01, 2015 16:41 IST

Indian politicians and controversial remarks go hand in hand. Several of them have proven that misogyny runs deep in the crop of politicians in the country.

On Wednesday, BJP MP Giriraj Singh targeted Congress president Sonia Gandhi in a racist remark on Wednesday, questioning whether the party would have accepted her as its chief if the colour of her skin had not been white.

Here are five sexist remarks made by politicians in the past few years.

1) Digvijaya Singh, Congress leader

Congress leader Digvijaya Singh was widely panned in 2013 for calling a woman Lok Sabha MP a '100% tunch maal'. The colloquial 'tunch maal' is widely used in the Hindi heartland to commodify women as 'sexy items'. Alternate, but rarely used, meanings of 'tunch' - pure and solid - turned the face-saver in this case.

Hundreds in the audience at a public meet in Madhya Pradesh's Mandsaur district, about 375 km northwest of capital Bhopal, broke into guffaws on Thursday after Singh endorsed local MP Meenakshi Natrajan as a "tunch maal". Apparently, all those who laughed missed the context.

"Gandhivadi hain, saral hain, imandar hain. Sabke paas jaati hain, gaon gaon jaati hain. Rajneetigyon ko thodi si baat me pata chal jaata hai ki kaun farzi hai, kaun sahi hai. Main purana jauhri hoon, ye 100% tunch maal hai," Singh said, with Natrajan on the podium.

2) Abhijit Mukherjee, Congress leader and President Pranab Mukherjee's son

Speaking to a Bengali-language television channel in his earlier assembly constituency Nalhati in Birbhum district, Abhijit Mukherjee, son of President Pranab Mukherjee, said on Christmas day that "highly dented-painted" women visited discotheques and then appeared at India Gate to protest the Delhi bus gang-rape.

"What's basically happening in Delhi is somewhat like Egypt or elsewhere, where there was something called the Spring Revolution, which has very little connection with ground realities. In India, staging candle-light marches, going to discotheques - we did all this during our student life too, we were students too - I know very well what kind of character students should have," Abhijit said.

"Those who claim to be students - I can see many beautiful women among them they were highly dented-painted - they're giving interviews on TV, they've brought their children to show them the scenes," he said.

3) Sharad Yadav, JD(U) chief

Sharad Yadav was recently at the centre of a controversy over his comments on south Indian women with his detractors terming it as "sexist" and "racist" but the JD(U) president remained defiant, saying he was only praising their beauty.

"The body of women from south is as good as beautiful they are. They (women) in our region are not that good as those (in south) know dancing," Yadav had said in Rajya Sabha during a debate on insurance bill. Yadav, a best parliamentarian awardee, said he was only underscoring the social and cultural bias in favour of people with white skin.

4) Mulayam Singh Yadav, Samajwadi Party chief

Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Mulayam Singh Yadav last year said it was unfair to award death penalty to rapists for their 'mistakes'. "Rape ke liye phaansi dena ghalat hai, ladkon se ghalti ho jaati hai, hum satta mein aaye to kanoon mein badlav karenge (Handing death sentence for rape is not fair... boys make mistakes... there will be changes in the law if we come to power)."

He added boys and girls fall in love but part ways due to differences. "When their friendship ends, the girl complains she has been raped."

5) Laxmikant Parsekar, Goa chief minister

On Wednesday, Goa chief minister Laxmikant Parsekar allegedly advised protesting nurses not to stage a hunger strike under the hot sun as it could darken their complexion and affect their marital prospects, joining a growing list of ministers from the state who have drawn criticism for their public comments.

Anusha Sawant, one of the protesting nurses, said: "When we met the chief minister over our demands at Ponda (on Tuesday), he said the girls should not sit on hunger strike in hot sun as their complexion will become dark and they will not find a good bridegroom.

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