Congress MP Renuka Chowdhury said “the Pavlovian reflex” of male MPs to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s remarks on her laughter shatters the myth created about the government doing a lot for the women in the country.
“Right from Shah Bano to triple talaq, where governments have made rules and broken rules and tried to establish norms for how women should be treated in society, I think by laughing I shattered that myth and fallacy that something is actually being done for women across the country,” Chowdhury told The Indian Express on the sidelines of the Difficult Dialogues gender equality conference in Panaji on Sunday.
Last week, PM Modi reacted to Chowdhury’s laughter during his speech in Rajya Sabha, with the remark, “Ramayan serial ke baad aisi hasi sunne ka ab saubhagya mila hain.
“I have been in the Parliament 32 years till date. If I could be told by no less than the Prime Minister of the country that my laughing has parallels with a supposedly negative character, then the misogyny carries on from Ramayan. After all, the character they drew a parallel with, what was her sin, and still she was punished. … The BJP hasn’t realised that we have turned around and bitten them… Because women in the country have changed. Since the incident women are forming Surpanaka gangs, saying that they do not want to be Sitas anymore, they say, ‘we are Surpanakas and we poke our noise into everything’.”
Commenting on the the male counterparts from her own party who were spotted laughing at the PM’s statement, Chowdhury said they were pulled up by Congress president Rahul Gandhi after which they immediately covered up and said they didn’t understand what was going on.
She said she received support of women MPs from across party lines, except for BJP, with Jaya Bachchan (SP), Vandana Chavan (NCP), Kumari Selja and others accompanying her to meet Rajya Sabha Chairperson M Venkaiah Naidu to lodge a protest. On Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, who was the only BJP MP seen not reacting as her male counterparts cheered, she said, “She must know, for she is in a male domain like defence services. I went up to her and said thanks. She simply said, we are all women.”