Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati said on Friday that she prevented Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) workers across India from "reacting violently" to the state Congress chief's remarks which she felt were insulting to her as a woman and a Dalit.
"I can assure you that if my party members had come out on the streets across the country to express their anger against (Rita Bahuguna Joshi), there would have been anarchy everywhere," Maywati told reporters here.
Joshi, the Uttar Pradesh Congress president, was arrested late Wednesday and jailed for giving a speech against Mayawati and charged under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
A mob shouting pro-Mayawati slogans later attacked and torched Joshi's house in Lucknow. The BSP denied its involvement in the arson.
"If I had not restrained my party members from reacting violently to Joshi's remarks, the entire country would have been on the boil. The Congress should be grateful to me for that.
"I can tell you for sure that but for me, the law and order situation would have worsened to a stage where the central government would have been compelled to impose President's Rule in all states," she said.
Thanking all political parties for condemning Joshi's remarks, Mayawati said: "I was surprised that initially Congress president Sonia Gandhi did not tender an apology. It was only on second thoughts, after she realised that many MPs had disapproved of Joshi's remarks, that Sonia expressed her regret.
"I do not mind healthy criticism but use of unparliamentary, obscene and derogatory remarks cannot be condoned," she said. "It is high time the Congress party realises that and tells its leaders and workers to behave.
"Joshi's act was unpardonable and the law will take its course. Like Varun Gandhi, she may also get bail but I am sure that sooner or later she will definitely get punished," Mayawati added.