Rajya Sabha on Monday witnessed sharp exchanges between JD(U) MP Sharad Yadav and human resource development minister Smriti Irani over the former’s comments on women’s complexion.
Under attack for sexist remarks, JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav remained unapologetic for his comments on women’s complexion, as he raked it up again saying he was ready for a debate on the issue.
During the debate on the insurance bill in the Rajya Sabha last week, Sharad Yadav spoke on Indian’s obsession for fair skin and said: “Your God is dark like Ravi Shankar Prasad, but your matrimonial ads insist on white-skinned brides.”
Today he defended his remarks in Rajya Sabha and said, “What have I said … ‘saanvli’ (dark complexioned) women are more in number in India, they are more in number the world over. I am ready to debate with anyone on the struggle of (Ram Manohar) Lohia and others for them.”
Human resource development minister Smriti Irani reacted sharply to the remarks and said the member should not comment on the complexion of women in any way.
“I appeal through you (chair) to the gentleman, do not make comments about the colour of any woman’s skin. You (Sharad Yadav) are a senior member, a very wrong message is going to the rest of the country,” she said.
Yadav responded saying: “I strongly refute the allegation.”
“From Gandhi to Lohia, I have all the record of what has been said about women. A lot of struggle has been done for women with dark complexion,” he said, to which Irani responded saying: “Please don’t do this. Naming Lohia and Gandhi and commenting on women”.
Earlier Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad raised the issue in the House and asked the JD(U) leader to withdraw his comments.
Prasad said: “Comments were made on south Indian women, I was also mentioned, I remained quiet. I want to keep myself away from that comment.”
“I completely disagree with the comment. Ask the member to withdraw the comment,” he urged the chair.
Trying to clarify, Yadav said his comments were misinterpreted: “There are more dusky women in India and in the world… I can discuss the issue with anyone, we are in favour of Indian culture.”
Deputy chairman PJ Kurien said he would not allow a discussion on the issue.
“White complexion or dark complexion, it is all the same, I am not allowing a discussion on this,” Kurien said.
Leader of opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad opined that the issue should not be discussed as it will get more complicated.
Yadav, however, said he was ready to participate in a discussion.
“There has been a long struggle against discrimination based on colour… I am ready to participate in a debate any time,” said Yadav.