The Congress on Thursday sharply reacted to BJP MP from Mathura and film actress Hema Malini for her remarks against widows of West Bengal and Bihar living in Vrindavan-Mathura for a long time.
The Congress legislature party (CLP) leader Pradip Mathur, who represents Mathura constituency, said that Hema Malini’s comments about the stay of these widows in temple town was highly uncharitable. Pointing out that her statement had hurt religious feeling of the people, Mathur said these widows from West Bengal and Bihar had been living for a long time in Mathura as “devotees of Lord Krishna”.
Hema Malini during her visit to the constituency on Wednesday said that Vrindavan was overcrowded with around 40,000 widows and there was no need for more widows to come to Mathura. She said there were already good temples in West Bengal and Bihar, where they could stay. These widows in fact have been living in Mathura for a long time. Hema Malin also said that she would take up the issue with the chief ministers of
West Bengal and Bihar to stop widows’ influx in Mathura.
However Mathur said, “large-hearted people of Mathura have always given shelter and honoured these women staying in Vrindavan, Gokul and Radhakund.” He said several governmental and non-governmental organizations had been providing them sustenance. Mathur said Hema Malini should talk in country’s interest and keep away herself from such comments.
The UPCC spokesman RP Singh said that the BJP MP did not have knowledge of Indian culture and “Sanathan Dharma”. He said widows from various parts of the country had long been staying in Mathura and Varanasi as a part of their religious tradition. Pointing out that Hema Malini was also not from UP, Singh said she had insulted sadhvi widows. He said it was result of negative approach of the BJP towards women.
Mohini Giri, the chairperson of NGO Guild of Service, which runs Amar Bari ashram in Vrindavan, has said that this statement has "broken the heart" of thousands of widows who had many hopes from Hema.
"This is very insensitive statement. Why only widows are targeted. What is the dignity and status of a widow. We are not going to tolerate this," the veteran social activist said.
"Tomorrow someone will say that you are also widow and you are from Andhra so go back to your state. What will I do then? Is this we expect in our country. My widows are crying. They has a lot of hopes from Hema who is not able to understand their condition despite being a woman," she said.
The actress on Thursday defended her previous statement in a series of tweets, saying no one listened to her "actual interview" to the media.
"I haven't said anything that I should be ashamed of. I stand by my statement that they should be allowed to live with dignity. Sad state for a country once known for the respect shown to women. This is what I was trying to point out," she tweeted.
"It is traumatic to see these poor widows begging on the streets even for their daily existence. Have all of you ever witnessed their plight? Of course I intend doing what I can to improve their condition but Vrindavan has a space limitation too. State govt too should contribute," she added.
(With inputs from PTI)