FACING A backlash for belittling actor-politician Jaya Bachchan, Rajya Sabha MP and BJP leader Naresh Agrawal on Tuesday offered his regrets, but said his comments were twisted by the media. Agrawal, who lost out to actor-politician Jaya Bachchan in the race for re-nomination to the Upper House, had quit the SP and joined the BJP on Monday. In the presence of BJP leaders, including Union minister Piyush Goyal, he had said: “For someone who used to dance in films, act in films, I was denied a ticket (for the Rajya Sabha). I did not find it appropriate.” He did not name Bachchan.
“My intention was not to hurt anybody’s sentiments. I regret if my comment has hurt somebody’s feelings and withdraw my words,” Agrawal said on Tuesday. Meanwhile, BSP president Mayawati, SP chief Akhilesh Yadav and state Congress chief Raj Babbar took on Agrawal on Tuesday for his comment.
In a statement issued in Lucknow, Mayawati said: “Naresh Agrawal, who was welcomed into the BJP-fold from the SP in a grand manner, has made indecent remarks against SP MP Jaya Bachchan. The statement is grossly anti-women and he should tender an apology to the nation.”
“Such an anti-women remark in a press conference, with senior leaders of BJP present, is something that has embarrassed the women community and the whole country. The senior leadership of BJP should take this matter seriously. However, based on earlier experiences, it feels like the BJP is not as serious against those with anti-women mentality, as it should be in the eyes of people,” she added in a statement.
“Jaya Bachhan is a respected name and represents a respected family. Her family has contributed in the field of cinema and she is an MP, too. Naresh Agrawal’s comment against her is controversial and anti-women,” she said. “The BSP condemns it in the harshest possible manner… The BJP is the ruling party. How it views the unparliamentary and insulting comments is being seen by the entire nation,” Mayawati added.
Earlier, Akhilesh, in a tweet, said: “We condemn BJP’s Naresh Agrawal’s derogatory comment on Smt Jaya Bachhan ji. This is an insult to the cinema world as well as every women of this country. If the BJP really respect women, then they should take immediate action against him (Agrawal). The Mahila Ayog should also take action in the matter.”
Congress’ Raj Babbar said the BJP must think whether it should welcome such a person to join its party. “All the people in the country respect Bachchan and take pride (in her acting skills). She has been a parliamentarian for so many years. Just for not getting a ticket, you use such a language?” he asked.
“The BJP must think whether the party should welcome such a person. Should the prime minister not take note of it when his party’s cabinet ministers Sushma Swaraj and Smriti Irani have condemned the comments?” he added.
Swaraj, the external affairs minister, had said Monday that while Agrawal was welcomed in the BJP, his comments were “improper and unacceptable”.