Tuesday, September 27th, 2022 19:24:00

Sexist Mps Are Everywhere

Updated: April 4, 2015 4:37 pm

The attitude of Indian men, of being the superior sex, often causes our MPs to make appalling sexist remarks. During the discussion on the Women’s Reservation Bill, then Mulayam Singh in his 70s, said if 33 per cent seats were allocated to them, we would have women with lipstick, hair-dos and dressed fashionably. There will be whistling and vulgar remarks in Parliament.

He did not realise it but in reality he was branding MPs as sexists of the street Lotharios kind. Most recently JD-U leader Sharad Yadav joined the category of Yadavs, revealing the crudity in the manner we treat women. And even after furore at his remarks he desisted from withdrawing it.

In his clash with Smriti Irani he stunned the House when he said, “I know what you are”. This was the most crude and below the belt remark directed at Smriti Irani. He desisted all round pressure to apologise. But after a few days when finance minister Arun Jaitley strongly objected to his jibe in Rajya Sbaha, he said, “I regret (the controversy). I respect her.” The JD(U) leader said he had greatest respect for Smriti and claimed that he was the first person to defend her when objections were raised on her degree certificate.

“I was the first one to defend Smriti Irani, when questions were raised over her degree,” Sharad Yadav said. Yadav added that he holds two women ministers in the BJP-led government—commerce minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Irani, in high esteem.

“I consider Sitharaman as the best minister and competent,” he said, adding when the controversy over Irani’s degree broke, he had defended her saying he himself was “an engineer of Political Science but had never studied it.” But he kicked off another major controversy after Yadav commented on the complexion of women from a particular part of the country. When the issue was raised in the House by Irani, DMK member Kanimozhi and some others, Yadav had remained defiant and unapologetic and had reacted sharply against the HRD Minister saying “I know what kind of person you are.”

Sharad Yadav was forced to respond after Jaitley said that his remarks had created an improper impression. Yadav’s remarks were reported in the newspapers while these have been expunged from the records of proceedings of the house.”Why should I apologise? I raised a very important issue of discrimination on colour,” he said.

In fact, he surpassed Mulayam Singh in his offensive, under the belt language. He has a counterpart Nicholas Soames, grandson of Winston Churcill. He seems to have inherited with from the great man, but he used it in the House of Commons to laugh at women MPs. In his first term, 121 women were elected and they were called Blair Babes. Soames targeted them which amused rather angered other MPs. Once a young woman MP was speaking on birds, Soames promptly shouted repeatedly, Bird, Bird, Bird. Once a young woman MP was wearing a rather tight skirt, the moment she started to get up he offered his services to help her stand up. No wonder a book on him described him as the sexist MP. Sharad Yadav is no match to him. In fact to his credit, after a few days of resistance he apologised. He expressed regret and said he respected her and had defended her earlier.

But on the issue of fair and dark complexion Yadav refused to withdraw his remark. During the debate on the Insurance Bill in the Rajya Sabha he spoke on Indian’s obsession for fair skin and said: “Your God is dark like Ravi Shankar Prasad, but your matrimonial ads insist on white-skinned brides.” Defending his remarks he seemed unrepentant. “What have I said … ‘saanvli’ (dark complexioned) women are more in number in India, they are more in number the world over. I am ready to debate with anyone on the struggle of (Ram Manohar) Lohia and others for them.” Outside the House, Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said he totally disassociated himself from remarks of Sharad Yadav and asked him not to stand on prestige but withdraw them. “White complexion or dark complexion, it is all the same, I am not allowing a discussion on this,” Kurien said. Leader of Opposition, Ghulam Nabi Azad, opined that the issue should not be discussed as it will get more complicated. BSP Chief Mayawati, who is also a member of Rajya Sabha, said it would have been better that Yadav, a senior member, avoids such issues.

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