|Jangipur MP Abhijit Mukherjee. Right: Protesters shout slogans as police block their way in Delhi on Thursday
Kolkata - President Pranab Mukherjee's son Abhijit on Thursday stoked a major controversy by describing women participating in Delhi protests against the gang-rape of a medical student as ‘highly dented and painted’, triggering angry backlash.
“Those who are coming in the name of students in the rallies, sundori, sundori mahila (beautiful women), highly dented and painted,” Abhijit Mukherjee, an MP from Jangipur constituency, which Pranab Mukherjee had vacated before his election to the top post, told a Bengali news channel.
“Giving interviews in TV and showing off their children. I wonder whether they are students at all,” he said, adding, “What's basically happening in Delhi is something like pink revolution, which has very little connection with ground realities.” The remarks sparked a nationwide outrage with even his sister Sharmistha expressing “utter shock and anguish” and apologising on his behalf.
“I express my utter shock and anguish. I really apologise to every woman, man and every sensitive person in this country... I am utterly shocked and only thing I can say is that I really apologise on his behalf... I am quite surprised with what my brother said,” Sharmistha said.
Asked whether Abhijit should apologise for his words, she said, “I completely agree. He should immediately apologise. “Not only as a President's son, but as any sensitive man, he should not have made this kind of statement. Forget about being a political leader, it shows a certain degree of insensitivity... My family is not like that,” she said. On whether her father would be embarrassed with Abhijit's remarks, Sharmistha said, “I am sure he will be.
I can say that he also shares my view.... One thing is for sure that he (Pranab) does not agree with his (Abhijit) views. I am sure. He (Pranab) has made a statement and during our personal interactions, he expressed his anguish.” Soon after, Abhijit retracted his comments by saying they were not meant to hurt “any particular section or any particular sentiment”.
“I apologise to all the people whose sentiments were hurt because of these sentences. I withdraw the remarks,” he said. However, the apology failed to impress women activists and political leaders.
CPI(M) leader Brinda Karat said politicians cannot be allowed to get away with a mere apology after making “outrageous and highly condemnable” remarks “demeaning women” and there should be a code of conduct for elected representatives.
Former Samata party president Jaya Jaitley said the comments have revealed the true mindset of the MP.
“As a representative of the people, obviously this is an insensitive statement... That is why the suffering is increasing,” former IPS officer and social activist Kiran Bedi said.
Terming the remarks as unfortunate, Smriti Irani, chief of BJP' women wing, said it was especially distressing as they had come from the President's son. “I think this is exactly the kind of mindset that the youths are fighting against,” she said.
Govt to shame rapists on official websites
The government on Thursday said that it will post the photos, names and addresses of convicted rapists on official websites to publicly shame them. Minister of state for home affairs Ratanjit Pratap Narain Singh said the campaign would begin first in New Delhi, where the brutal gang-rape of a student on December 16 by six drunken men has sparked nationwide protests.
"We are planning to start it (the campaign) in Delhi," Singh told reporters, hours after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said women were being treated unfairly in India. "Photographs, names and addresses of the rapists will be uploaded on the Delhi Police website (http:// www.delhipolice.nic.in)," he said.
The minister said the governmentrun National Crime Records Bureau had been told to prepare a directory of convicted rapists and upload their photographs and personal details to its official website (http://ncrb.nic.in) as well.
‘Victim very serious’
The 23-year-old Delhi gang-rape victim, who was airlifted to Singapore on Wednesday night, remained in an extremely critical condition on Thursday. Abulletin issued by Mount Elizabeth Hospital in the evening said, “As at 7 pm (4.30 pm IST), the patient remains in an extremely critical condition. She is under treatment at Mount Elizabeth Hospital's Intensive Care Unit.”
“A multi-disciplinary team of specialists is taking care of her and doing everything possible to stabilise her condition,” said Dr Kelvin Loh, CEO of the hospital, which is one of Asia’s leading healthcare centre and is known for kidney and heart transplants. The hospital receives patients from across the globe because of its state-of-the-art facilities for highly-complicated surgeries.
Abhijit Mukherjee's remark and the outrage
► Those who are coming in the name of students in the rallies, sundori, sundori mahila (beautiful women), highly dented and painted.
- Abhijit Mukherjee, President’s son
► I express my utter shock and anguish. I really apologise to every women, man and every sensitive person in this country.
- Sharmistha Abhijit’s sister
It was especially distressing as they came from the President's son . This is exactly the kind of mindset that the youths are fighting against.
- Smriti Irani, BJP leader
► As a representative of the people, obviously this is an insensitive statement. That is why the suffering is increasing.
- Kiran Bedi Ex-IPS officer
► Abhijit Mukherjee is one of those mentally bankrupt politicians who are completely unaware of reality of Modern India. He needs treatment.
- Anupam Kher Actor