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Monday, Nov 18, 2019

Would have said the same thing if defence minister was a man: Rahul Gandhi on mahila remark row

Congress president Rahul Gandhi insisted that Prime Minister Narendra Modi should have defended himself in Parliament on the Rafale deal instead of deputing defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

india Updated: Jan 13, 2019 12:51 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
New Delhi
Congress President Rahul Gandhi addresses Indian diaspora, in Dubai, Friday, Jan 11, 2019.
Congress President Rahul Gandhi addresses Indian diaspora, in Dubai, Friday, Jan 11, 2019.(PTI photo)

Rahul Gandhi reiterated his controversial remarks of last week against defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the Rafale deal and insisted that he would have made similar comments even if the defence minister had been a man.

He insisted that the Prime Minister should have defended himself in Parliament on the Rafale deal instead of deputing Sitharaman.

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi has helped Anil Ambani steal Rs 30,000 crore and the House of the people Lok Sabha is where he should have defended himself but he chose to send another person and that person happened to be a woman,” he said at a press conference in Dubai when asked about his remarks about Sitharaman on which the National Commission for Women (NCW) has issued a notice to him.

Rahul Gandhi accused PM Modi of helping Anil Ambani’s firm get an offset contract from Rafale manufacturer Dassault Aviation. The allegation has been denied by the Indian and French government as well as the two firms, Reliance Defence and Dassault Aviation.

“I would have made a very similar comment if it had been a man. Do not impose your sexism on me. I am very clear that the prime minister should have delivered that defence but he did not have the guts.”

He said the Congress has not yet got the answer whether defence ministry officials objected to the Prime Minister “bypassing” it on the Rafale deal. Sitharaman had spoken on behalf of the Prime Minister and defended the Rafale deal in the Lok Sabha.

Rahul Gandhi had made his remarks against Nirmala Sitharaman at a rally in Jaipur and had accused Prime Minister Modi of hiding behind a “woman defence minister”.

“On Rafale, when we raised questions in the Lok Sabha, we asked the PM to answer some questions. The PM didn’t come to the Lok Sabha for even a minute. Nirmala Sitharaman spoke for two and a half hours, but couldn’t answer our questions. We demolished her arguments. But the PM couldn’t show his face in Lok Sabha even for one minute,” Rahul said.

“He asked a woman to defend him, and you saw how for two and a half hours, she couldn’t defend him,” he said.

Hours later, while lauding defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had criticised the Congress president. He claimed that the Congress was resorting to mocking the defence minister because they had been left stunned by Sitharaman’s revelation of the truth in the Rafale deal in Parliament.

“They insulted a woman defence minister. They didn’t insult just a woman defence minister, but all women of the country. And for that these irresponsible politicians must pay,” Modi said.

Rahul Gandhi’s statement against Sitharaman had also earned him a notice from the National Commission of Women for what it called a ‘mosgynist and offensive’ comment against a woman.

“As a leader people look up to, he should not give such misogynist statements where he thinks that a woman is a weak person...What does he mean? I want clarification because it gives a very wrong impression when a leader says such things,” the commission’s chairperson Rekha Sharma said.

(With inputs from PTI)