BJP vice-president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi has come under a severe attack from women parliamentarians, cutting across party lines, for suggesting that “women wearing lipstick and powder” have taken to streets in Mumbai, “leading marches against the political class”.
“Some women wearing lipstick and powder have taken to streets in Mumbai and are abusing politicians, thus spreading dissatisfaction against democracy. This is what terrorists are doing in Jammu and Kashmir,” Naqvi told television channels, leading to a barrage of protests from women parliamentarians, many of them from his own BJP.
“Many women in responsible positions in India and across the world wear lipstick and make-up. What’s the big deal about it? It only shows that most of the BJP leaders are mentally bankrupt and that they cannot think of anything better,” said the All India Mahila Congress president Prabha Thakur.
Women leaders in the BJP — that claimed to become the first party reserving one-third of party posts for women a few months ago — too, were unsparing in Naqvi’s criticism. Said BJP vice-president Karuna Shukla: “All of us are deeply anguished by what happened in Mumbai, but this doesn’t give anyone the freedom to make irresponsible comments about women.”
Added Maharashtra BJP spokesperson Shaina N C: “Whether it’s R R Patil or Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, people in public lives should be careful with their words. Even if it was said in jest, what Naqvi said was in poor taste.”
Asked if Naqvi’s comment reminded her of Janata Dal (United) leader Sharad Yadav’s remarks on “par kati” women, former Samata Party president Jaya Jaitly said: “Yadav’s comments were sexist; but to keep Naqvi’s comments in the same bracket would be superficial reading. I can put on lipstick and still agree with Naqvi’s statement. What he meant was the demonising of the political class that leads to the loss of democracy.”
The BJP, however, immediately distanced itself from Naqvi’s views. “Those are his own views. As you express dissent on an issue, the language should be dignified. His (Naqvi’s) statement has gone beyond that. The BJP also believes that the protests only show that the present Government has not been able to come up with concrete anti-terror measures,” said BJP general secretary and head of party media cell Arun Jaitley.
Naqvi later clarified that he was only referring to a “small professional group of protesters who have a penchant of taking to streets at the drop of a hat”. The BJP leader was said to be specially perturbed by a journalist-turned-activist who has involved herself with many a case related to communal strife in Gujarat and elsewhere.
“Don’t target Pakistan; target the political class” is the mantra adopted by this particular NGO in their protests, ranging from Gujarat to the Mumbai attacks. I was only referring to them. We should unite in our war against terror and the Pak-sponsored attacks rather than waging a war against the democratic institutions. However, if the portrayal of my comments by the audio-visual media has hurt anyone, I would like to apologise,” Naqvi told The Indian Express.