Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh was widely panned on Friday for calling a woman Lok Sabha MP a ‘100% tunch maal’, but looked set to escape real damage because she did not take offence.
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 — are turning 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.
The translation would be: “She believes in Gandhian philosophy, is simple, honest. She meets everybody and visits villages. Politicians have the ability to know who is fake and who is genuine after brief interactions. I am an old jeweller, she is 100% pure item).”
Natrajan, who was elected from Mandsaur parliamentary constituency in 2009, said, “He said something about me genuinely and in a perspective. Ise sahi sandarbhon me dekha jaana chaahiye (It should be seen in the right context).”
Natrajan, listed on the Lok Sabha website as a member of the committee on empowerment of women, added, “Those whose mindset is negative would see only wrong in it. There is nothing objectionable in his statement.”
Singh could not be reached for comment.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), however, tore into Singh over the “sexist remark”. State industries minister Kailash Vijayvargiya — no stranger to foot-in-mouth moments — said Singh’s remarks were against the dignity of women. He said the way Singh was issuing statements these days suggested “he should be medically examined and advised some rest.”