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'Wives lose charm' comment lands coal minister in trouble

October 02, 2012 19:41 IST
Union Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal found himself at the centre of a controversy on Saturday over his sexist remark that wives lose charm over time, sparking an outrage among women's groups, which dubbed the comment as "disgusting and derogatory".

Facing flak for his remarks at a Kavi sammelan in Kanpur on Sunday night, Jaiswal offered an apology, saying he had no intention to hurt the sentiments of women.

Jaiswal also came under attack from the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, which raised questions on his continuance in the Union cabinet.

Protestors including women burnt effigies of Jaiswal and blackened posters with his face on it in his hometown in Kanpur.

Jaiswal, who was addressing a sammelan when news of India's victory over Pakistan in an ICC World Twenty20 match in Sri Lanka came in, said that like an old victory wives lose charm as time goes by.

Observing that people became excited after India's victory, Jaiswal said, "New new victory and new new wedding, both of them have their own importance. As time will pass, the victory will become old. As time passes wife also becomes old, that charm does not sustain."

Jaiswal claimed on Tuesday that his comments were misconstrued and taken out of context and that he apologised for the same if they have hurt the sentiments of women.

"When I was inaugurating a kavi sammelan news came that India beat Pakistan and people started bursting crackers. I stopped the sammelan and said that you celebrate the victory first since the charm of celebration is for new victory only. If it will get old the charm will get lost like the way a wife gets old then celebration of marriage does not remain that enjoyable. Similarly, if the victory will become old you will not enjoy celebration in the morning. My remarks have been misconstrued," he told the media in Delhi.

The Congress distanced itself from the remarks of Jaiswal.

"Since he has already clarified/explained/apologised, the matter should rest there," Congress spokesman Manish Tiwari told reporters in Delhi.   

"The comment is really derogatory," said Mamata Sharma, chairperson of National Commission for Women, while BJP's women's wing chief Smriti Irani called the remarks "preposterous and disgusting."

Sharma said the panel will write to Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in protest against the comments. She, however, said there is no move to send a notice to Jaiswal to seek his explanation.

"The Congress party is led by a lady. And though who should be in the cabinet is a prerogative of the prime minister, both Manmohan Singh and the Congress chief should think whether they want to have somebody with such a feudal mindset in the cabinet," BJP's Nirmala Sitharaman said.

"We can judge the standard of Congress on the basis of these utterances, how low can they go," she added.

 Prominent women activist Poornima Advani described as "absolutely absurd" the remark, which exposed the "perversity" in the mind of the minister. Such comments from people holding public office are unwarranted, she said.

Image: Union coal minister Sriprakash Jaiswal 

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