Under attack for his comment on “saanvli” (dark-complexioned) women, JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav hit back at HRD Minister Smriti Irani in the Rajya Sabha on Monday and told her, “I know what you are”.
Yadav refused to apologise for his earlier remark on “saanvli” women. “What have I said? Why should I apologise? I raised a very important issue of discrimination on colour. There has been a long struggle against discrimination based on colour… I am ready to participate in a debate any time… Saanvli women are more in number in India, they are more in number the world over,” he said.
Irani then asked him not to bring in such issues. “I appeal to the gentleman not to make comments on colour of skin of women in this manner. A very wrong message is going. I do not think any comment should be made on this,” she said.
An angry Yadav pointed at Irani and said, “Kaun hain aap? Ye aap kya hain, main jaanta hoon (Who are you? I know what you are).
Yadav said, “I have the records of all that has been said about women from the time of (Ram Manohar) Lohia to (Mahatma) Gandhi… the kind of struggle that has gone behind this.”
DMK MP Kanimozhi, who was the lone voice to protest against Yadav’s comment on Thursday, rose to protest. As other members joined in, Deputy Chairman P J Kurien said he would not allow a discussion on the issue. “I am not allowing any discussion… white or dark colour, it is all the same,” he said.
The issue was raised by Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, soon after the house began its proceedings on Monday. “Sharad Yadavji made a comment on dark-complexioned women, some television channels showed that I was supporting him. I want to completely disassociate from the comment,” he said.
Yadav was criticising the proposal to hike FDI in the insurance sector from 26 per cent to 49 per cent when he started speaking about “our affinity” for white skin. He talked about how Leslee Udwin, director of the December 16 gangrape documentary, must have found it “easy” to acquire permissions because of her skin colour.
He then went on to say: “The women of the south are dark but they are… their bodies…” At this point, members sitting around him tried to bring him back to the topic at hand with cries of “Sharadji Bill”.