IN A war of words on Wednesday, Congress president Rahul Gandhi said Prime Minister Narendra Modi sought the help of a woman (Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman) to defend him on the Rafale deal, while Modi accused Rahul of “insulting” women.
Addressing a farmers’ rally in Jaipur, Rahul said: “Janta ki adalat se chappan inch ki chaatiwala bhaag gaya, aur ek mahila se kehta hai ‘Sitharamanji, aap meri raksha kijiye, mein apni raksha nahi kar paunga’… Aur aapne dekha dhai ghante mahila raksha nahi kar paayi. Seedha sa sawaal tha mera, haan ya naa dijiye, par woh raksha nahi kar paayi (The one with the 56-inch chest fled from the court of the people and asked a woman that ‘Sitharamanji, defend me, I am unable to defend myself’. You saw that for two-and-a-half hours, the woman could not defend him. I asked a simple question, which required a yes or no answer, but she could not defend him).”
Hours later, addressing a public meeting in Agra, Modi said: “Jab hamari raksha mantri, ek mahila, ne Parliament me virodhi dal ke netaon ke chhakke chhuda diye, aur unke saare jhooth ko benakaab kar diya… Aur hamari raksha mantri ek ke baad ek satya ko Parliament ke sadan par rakh rahi thi… Aise baukhla gaye… tab woh ek naari ka apmaan karne par tule hue hain. Ek mahila raksha mantri ka apman karne par tule hue hain. Yeh raksha mantri ka nahi, yeh pure Hindustan ki naari shakti ka apmaan hai, aur jiski keemat yeh gair jimmedar netaon ko chukani hi padegi (When our defence minister, a woman, stumped the Opposition in Parliament, and exposed all their lies… the defence minister presented all the facts in Parliament… they got so angry that they are bent upon insulting a woman… They are bent upon insulting a woman defence minister. This is an insult to not just the defence minister, but the entire country’s women power, and these irresponsible leaders will have to pay the price for this).” He said it was matter of pride that a woman had become the country’s first defence minister.
Rahul then retorted with a tweet: “With all due respect Modi Ji, in our culture respect for women begins at home. Stop shaking. Be a man and answer my question: Did the Air Force and Defence Ministry object when you bypassed the original Rafale deal? Yes? Or No?”
Meanwhile, the National Commission for Women said it would issue a notice to Rahul for his remarks. “What is Rahul Gandhi trying to imply with his misogynistic statement ‘… ek mahila say kaha meri raksha kiijiye’? Does he think women are weak? The irony — calling an accomplished defence minister of the largest democracy a weak person,” tweeted NCW chairperson Rekha Sharma.
The NCW then immediately tweeted from its official handle to say that it “will be sending a notice to Rahul Gandhi regarding the statement in question”.