Under fire from the BJP for his ‘item’ remark against Madhya Pradesh minister Imarti Devi, Congress leader Kamal Nath on Monday tried to clear the air. Nath’s statement comes after Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan appealed to Congress leader Sonia Gandhi to immediately remove him from all party posts.
“I said something, it wasn’t to insult anyone… I just didn’t remember the (person’s) name…this list (in his hand) says item no 1, item no 2, is this an insult? Shivraj is looking for excuses, Kamal Nath doesn’t insult anyone, he’ll only expose you with truth,” said Kamal Nath.
In his letter to Sonia Gandhi, Chouhan said that Nath committed a shameless act by insulting a woman member of the Scheduled Caste and then attempted to justify the statement. “Immediately remove him from all party posts and strongly condemn his statement. If you fail to react, I will be compelled to believe that you support it,” Chouhan wrote in a letter. “The comment was made not once, but twice from a public platform,” he added.
Earlier in the day, Chouhan, BJP MP Jyotiraditya Scindia, Union minister Narendra Singh Tomar and other party leaders sat on a two-hour silent fast to protest against Nath’s remark.
Nath referred to Imarti Devi as an ‘item’, sparking a controversy while speaking at a rally in the run-up to Madhya Pradesh legislative assembly bypolls. “Suresh Raje ji hamare ummeedvar hain… Yeh uske jaise nah hain… Kya hai uska naam… Main kya uska naam loon?.. Aapko toh mujhe pehle savdhan karna chahiye tha… Yeh kya item hai (Suresh Raje ji is our candidate and is not like her… What’s her name? You know her better and should have warned me earlier… What an item!),” Nath had said in Hindi.
The former chief minister was addressing a campaign rally in Madhya Pradesh’s Dabra for Congress candidate Suresh Raje. Imarti Devi is also contesting on a BJP ticket from Dabra.
Imarti Devi and 21 other MLAs loyal to Scindia had resigned from the Congress and the state assembly and joined the BJP in March this year, in the process bringing down the Kamal Nath-led government. By-elections for 28 assembly seats in the state will be held on November 3 and the counting of votes will be held on November 10.