BJP distances itself from Katiyar's Priyanka remarks
Stoking a controversy, senior BJP leader Vinay Katiyar on Wednesday said there were "more beautiful women star campaigners than Priyanka Gandhi" in his party, provoking a sharp response from the leader who said his 'sexist' remarks exposed the saffron party's mindset towards women. Congress also took umbrage against Katiyar and demanded an apology for "insulting Indian womanhood".
Congress said Katiyar's comments reflected the "petty and insulting culture of BJP that commodifies women" and accused the rival party of insulting India's womanhood for which Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah should apologise.
Priyanka's husband Robert Vadra also attacked the BJP leader and demanded that Katiyar publicly apologise for his "misogynistic and atrocious" comments.
Priyanka Gandhi, who played an important role in cobbling together an alliance between Congress and Samajdwadi Party for Assembly elections in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, has been named as one of the star campaigners for her party.
Asked about Priyanka being named as a star campaigner by Congress for UP polls, Katiyar said, "It doesn't matter...
there are girls and women who are more beautiful than her (Priyanka) and are also star campaigners."
"Some of them are artists and heroines...they are more beautiful than her," he said, adding that "I think Smriti Irani is beautiful and she is also campaigning".
Reacting to his statement, Priyanka Gandhi said, "If that's all BJP sees in my colleagues who are each strong, brave and beautiful women that have battled through all sorts of hardships to get where they are, then he makes me laugh even more. Because he exposes the BJP's mindset towards the better half of the population of India!!!."
Under attack, Katiyar, later said, "I have huge respect for women...I haven't said anything wrong. I was only replying to a journalist's question. Priyanka is like my niece."
Within few hours of the senior BJP leader's remarks the party top brass condemned the statement. Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu called it "unacceptable" and condemned it.
"This is not us and neither the party nor the government supports such statements," Naidu said. The BJP called for an emergency meeting on Wednesday evening for party spokespersons here at the party headquarters on behalf of BJP president Amit Shah. Party spokespersons were asked to watch their utterances and not shoot their mouths off.