Led by Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, BJP workers across the state on Monday observed a two-hour ‘Maun vrat’ (observance of silence) against the “item” remark used by Congress state chief Kamal Nath against state cabinet minister Imarti Devi.
CM Chouhan also urged Congress president Sonia Gandhi to condemn the act and remove state Congress chief Kamal Nath from all party posts for his remarks against Imarti Devi, the state’s women and child development minister and a Dalit woman.
The protesters were led by Chouhan in Bhopal, Rajya Sabha member Jyotiraditya Scindia in Indore and union minister Narendra Singh Tomar and state BJP president VD Sharma in Gwalior.
The party workers held placards in their hands, condemning the remark, demanding an apology from Nath and action against him.
Nath was addressing an election meeting in Dabra (SC) legislative assembly constituency on Sunday in the Gwalior district, which is witnessing a bypoll, when he made the remark while comparing virtues of the Congress candidate Suresh Raje with those of the rival candidate Imarti Devi from the BJP.
Nath said, “Suresh Raje is a simple man. He is down to earth. He is not like the person. What is the name of the person?” As crowd responded to Nath’s question citing Imarti Devi’s name, Kamal Nath called her an “item”, saying, “Why should I name her? You know her better than I know. You should have warned me. Ye kya item hai…”
Chouhan said in Bhopal on Monday, “My Dalit sister Imarti Devi was insulted by the state Congress president Kamal Nath but what is more painful is that he is not remorseful for his act. Instead, he is trying to justify his indecent remark shamelessly.”
Defending Nath, his media coordinator said it was a case of misrepresenting things to gain advantage for the bypolls, and reminded BJP of the “maal” jibe by its leaders.
“The BJP is trying to create a controversy by misinterpreting a word for its political gains in bypolls. During an election meeting in Sumaoli constituency union minister said Congress didn’t have candidates, hence it took ‘rejected maal’ of BJP. Is this not an insult to women given the fact those from BJP who joined the Congress include women leaders too? For this, the union minister and entire BJP should tender an apology,” said Narendra Saluja, Kamal Nath’s media coordinator.
In his letter to Sonia Gandhi, Chouhan said, “I thought being a woman you would take notice of the news on insult to cabinet minister and scheduled caste woman leader Imarti Devi and take action against state Congress president Kamal Nath while condemning the indecent remark but you have not done it so far…She broke down while sharing her pain. Elections come and go but insult to a Dalit woman like this brings a bad name to the entire political arena.”
He said, “I request you to condemn the indecent remark and remove your party’s former chief minister Kamal Nath from all the party posts to teach a lesson to leaders of your party who insult women. I wish to add that if you keep silent on the insult it would be considered that it has your consent.”
In Indore, Scindia observed silence with a placard in his hand which read: “Mata bahano ka jo kare apmaan, Shastra kahen wo hai shaitan (Holy scriptures say those who insult mother and sisters are devils).”
Scindia said, “Kamal Nath has insulted the entire scheduled castes and Dalit community by calling Imarti Devi ‘item’. By making such an indecent remark he has brought a bad name to Madhya Pradesh.”
Demanding action from Sonia Gandhi, Scindia said, “If she doesn’t take action, people will come to know as to what is the difference between what Congress preaches and what it practises.”