Patna: A Congress party lawmaker from Jharkhand state has come under fire for sexist remarks about making roads in his constituency smoother than Bollywood actress Kangana Ranaut’s cheeks.
Known for portrayal of strong women in female-centric films, which also earned her India’s fourth highest civilian award of ‘Padma Shri’, Kangana is considered to be close to the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP).
The lawmaker, Dr Irfan Ansari, was slammed by opposition lawmakers and the social media users soon after he uploaded a self-made video on social media wherein he claims to turn roads in his constituency as silky as actress’s cheeks. The video was uploaded on Friday but its impact is being seen only now.
Use by tribal kids
“The construction of 14 important roads will begin soon in my constituency. I assure you that they will be smoother than film actress Kangana Ranaut’s cheeks and will be open for use by tribal children, youths and businessmen,” Ansari is heard telling the masses in his video. Ansari represents Jamtara seat in Jharkhand state assembly.
Although he is not the first politician to make such a remark, his move has drawn strong protests from BJP lawmakers who described it as “highly condemnable”.
“The lawmaker’s remark highlights his mentality towards women. This is like insulting the entire female community and he must tender an apology for his act,” BJP lawmaker Pushpa Devi said.
Another BJP lawmaker and former minister Neera Yadav described it as highly condemnable. “The Congress lawmaker passed such remarks just to be in the limelight. He should respect women instead of insulting them,” Yadav said. Aparna Sengupta, another BJP lawmaker, said Ansari should think twice before giving such “cheap” statements in the media.
The Congress party hurriedly disassociated itself with Ansari describing it as latter “personal opinion”. “Ansari should refrain from making such comments. The Congress has always been for women empowerment and holds high regards for women,” party spokesperson Rakesh Singh said.
Drawing an analogy of roads with film actresses’ checks is nothing new in India. Only last month, Maharashtra minister and Shiv Sena leader Gulabrao Patil had sparked a controversy after he compared the smoothness of roads in his assembly constituency to actor-turned-politician Hema Malini’s cheeks.
Prior to him, former Madhya Pradesh minister P.C. Sharma had promised to make pothole-ridden roads in Bhopal as “pretty” as Hema Malini’s cheeks.However, a trend of making such statements was reportedly started by former Bihar chief minister Lalu Prasad, who heads the main opposition Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) in Bihar. During his first term as the chief minister of Bihar in the 1990s, Prasad while interacting with the media had promised to make pot-holed roads as “smooth and silky” as Hema’s cheeks.
But Prasad blames former Prime Minister AB Vajpayee for starting such comparisons. “I have often been lampooned by the media for making foolish statements. I was attributed a statement that Bihar’s roads would be made like the cheeks of Hema Malini. However, this statement was originally made by Atal Bihari Vajpayee, and he played the mischief and somehow attributed the statement to me,” Prasad had said in his defence.
Yet, both Prasad and Hema remain each other’s fan even today and have never used harsh words against each other. Recently when Hema said that she is a big fan of Lalu Prasad. Using his characteristic humour, Yadav replied: “If Hemaji says she is my fan, then I am her air-conditioner,” leaving everyone in splits.