Facing backlash, Naresh Agrawal expresses regret for calling Jaya Bachchan someone 'who used to dance in films'

After drawing flak for his remarks disparaging actor-politician Jaya Bachchan as someone "who used to dance in films", former Samajwadi Party leader Naresh Agrawal, who defected to the Bharatiya Janata Party on Monday, expressed "regret" over his comment.

"I had said something which was given a different angle by the media. All I can say is that I didn't intend to hurt anyone. I express my regret, if it did hurt anyone. I take back my words," ANI quoted Agrawal as saying.

 Facing backlash, Naresh Agrawal expresses regret for calling Jaya Bachchan someone who used to dance in films

File image of Naresh Agrawal. PTI

On Monday, Agrawal, who lost out to Bachchan in the race for re-nomination to the Upper House, had quit the Samajwadi Party and joined the BJP. He said the Samajwadi Party had denied him the Rajya Sabha ticket in favour of someone who used to dance and act in films.

His comment was seen as an attack on Jaya Bachchan. "For somebody who used to dance in films, act in films, I was denied a ticket (for Rajya Sabha). I did not find it appropriate," Agrawal had said while joining the BJP. He was flanked by several BJP leaders, including Union minister Piyush Goyal, who welcomed him into the party.

The BJP had sought to distance itself from Agrawal's remarks, with party spokesperson Sambit Patra saying that the BJP respects people from all fields and welcomes them in to politics. A couple of hours later, senior BJP leader and its most prominent woman face Sushma Swaraj took to Twitter to criticise Agrawal's comments.

"Naresh Agrawal has joined Bhartiya Janata Party. He is welcome. However, his comments regarding Jaya Bachhan ji are improper and unacceptable," the external affairs minister had tweeted.

Union minister Smriti Zubin Irani had also appeared to criticise Agrawal over his remarks, saying when a woman's honour is challenged, "we stand as one in our condemnation irrespective of our politics". She had not, however, directly named Agrawal.

"My case is in the court of law for 5 years now. But let my battle not be an excuse to humiliate other women. In fact, let it be a reminder for us that when a woman's honour is challenged we stand as one in our condemnation irrespective of our politics," she had said in a tweet. Her tweet was in response to another tweet which had referred to Congress leader Sanjay Nirupam's alleged derogatory comment aimed at her. She had filed a case against him.

Toon by Manjul

Toon by Manjul

Agrawal, who was a part of Congress earlier, is not new to controversy. Last year, the BJP was up in arms over his comments in the Upper House mocking Hindu gods. His term as Rajya Sabha member ends on 2 April. The Samajwadi Party has once again nominated Bachchan to the Upper House.

Agrawal had expressed his affection for Samajwadi Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav and his cousin Ram Gopal Yadav, saying he could never leave them. Apparently criticising Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav, he added that it was losing strength in Uttar Pradesh due to the party's decision to ally with other parties.

The politician had said that he was joining the BJP unconditionally, and asserted that his MLA son would support the saffron party in the Rajya Sabha elections in the state. He had expressed his admiration for Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath.

With inputs from PTI

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Updated Date: Mar 13, 2018 14:27:57 IST