Strong reactions have come in from both the Congress and the BJP after Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan made derogatory and sexist remarks against his Rampur opponent and BJP candidate Jaya Prada at an election rally on Sunday.
"I brought her (Jaya Prada) to Rampur. You are a witness that I did not allow anyone to touch her body. It took you 17 years to identify her real face, but I got to know in 17 days that she wears khaki underpants," Khan purportedly said.
Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav and other senior leaders were also present on the stage when Khan made the statement in Rampur.
In response to his remarks, Jaya Prada on Monday said she was "habituated to such behaviour and comments", and that people won't forgive Khan for making such disrespectful comments against women. She also called to have the Samajwadi Party leader disallowed from contesting the elections.
"He shouldn't be allowed to contest the elections because if this man wins, what will happen to democracy? There'll be no place for women in society. Where will we go? Should I die, then you'll be satisfied? You think that I'll get scared and leave Rampur? I won't leave," Jaya Prada said.
An FIR has been registered Khan under Section 509 of the Indian Penal Code for "outraging the modesty" of a woman.
Meanwhile, taking suo motu cognisance of Khan's behaviour, the National Commission for Women (NCW) has sent him a notice. The women's rights body also wrote to Election Commission, calling for strict action against Khan.
NCW chairperson Rekha Sharma said the Samajwadi Party leader has a history of making derogatory remarks against women, and it is high time that action is initiated against him.
"He's always talking dirty about women, and during this election, this is the second remark he made against woman politicians. The NCW has taken suo-motu cognisance, and we're sending him a notice," she said. "We are also writing to EC to take strict action against him because he has to learn this lesson now. It's high time; he has to stop this. Women are not sex objects. I think, women should vote against such kind of people who treat women in such a way."
@NCWIndia strongly condemns the sexist comments made by Azam Khan on a lady politician which were extremely derogatory and disrespectful to the dignity of women and has taken Suo Moto cognizance of the matter. pic.twitter.com/QsCpOnsPr1
— NCW (@NCWIndia) April 15, 2019
Delhi Commission for Women chairperson Swati Maliwal also slammed Khan, calling his remarks "crass, distasteful and pathetic".
Shame on Azam Khan. What a crass, distasteful and pathetic statement! Wonder if he would say the same for his own daughter or sister? A big time low in our politics. FIR should be filed against him and he should be put behind bars! https://t.co/Dz7b3cPVZd
— Swati Maliwal (@SwatiJaiHind) April 15, 2019
Union minister Sushma Swaraj urged Samajwadi Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav to take action against Khan. Drawing a reference to the Mahabharata and comparing Khan's comments against Jaya Prada to "Draupadi's cheerharan", she said:
मुलायम भाई - आप पितामह हैं समाजवादी पार्टी के. आपके सामने रामपुर में द्रौपदी का चीर हरण हो रहा हैं. आप भीष्म की तरह मौन साधने की गलती मत करिये. @yadavakhilesh Smt.Jaya Bhaduri, Mrs.Dimple Yadav.pic.twitter.com/FNO5fM4Hkc
— Chowkidar Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) April 15, 2019
BJP Rajya Sabha MP Subramaniam Swamy said Khan's language reflected "Islamic State mentality", referring to the terrorist group's violence against women. Swamy urged Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath to take immediate action against Khan.
Yogi Adityanath, meanwhile, said Khan's remarks showed the Samajwadi Party's "thinking and culture", and that it was surprising that ally BSP's chief Mayawati was silent on the issue despite being a woman.
UP CM Yogi Adityanath on Azam Khan's remark: This shows the thinking & culture of Samajwadi Party. The silence of SP chief & his ally Mayawati, who is also a woman, is surprising. This is very unfortunate...Azam Khan's statement is extremely disrespectful, shows his cheap mindset pic.twitter.com/corLRj8XfP
— ANI (@ANI) April 15, 2019
Union minister Smriti Irani told ANI, "Derogatory comments are being made on a woman and Samajwadi Party leaders are sitting silently." She added that politicians should not forgo respect for women.
Congress leaders, too, condemned Khan's remarks, with party national spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi saying it "represents ugly and cheap standards". "Unequivocally condemn the statement of Azam Khan against Jaya Prada. Politics has no place for those who cannot maintain a decent discourse while criticising an opponent," he tweeted.
Hope that the ECI and @yadavakhilesh would take cognizance of the statement and ensure action against it.
— Abhishek Singhvi (@DrAMSinghvi) April 15, 2019
Another Congress national spokesperson, Priyanka Chaturvedi, called Khan out for his remarks.
The comment made on Jaya Prada by Azam Khan is absolutely unbecoming & this kind of filth in discourse needs to be condemned by all.
Fight on issues, BJP has given us enough& more reasons to defeat them but do not lower the discourse to sexist/misogynistic comments on opponents.
— Priyanka Chaturvedi (@priyankac19) April 15, 2019
Senior Congress leader and Delhi unit chief Sheila Dikshit said Khan should be ashamed of his statement and apologise to all the women of the nation.
Earlier on Monday, Khan had tried to clarify his remarks, claiming that he did not make any objectionable remarks against Jaya Prada. Asserting that he did not name anyone, the former MP said he would withdraw his candidature from the ongoing polls if proven guilty.
"I said that people took time to know a real face in reference to a man from Delhi, who once said he brought 150 rifles with him, and if he sees Azam, he would have shot him dead. My leaders also made a mistake. Now, it has been revealed that he has an RSS pant on his body. Shorts are worn by men," Khan told ANI. "I was a nine-time MLA from Rampur and have been a minister. I know what to say. "If anyone proves that I have named anyone and insulted anyone by name, I will step back from the elections."
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Updated Date: Apr 15, 2019 15:51:31 IST