Stoking a controversy, senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader and Bihar Minister Vinod Narain Jha said on Friday that newly appointed Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has no other quality except being ‘very beautiful’ and the party should remember that beauty does not garner votes.
The remark by Jha, who holds the Public Health and Engineering portfolio, was met with disapproval from Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's Janata Dal-United even as the opposition Congress-Rashtriya Janata Dal combine demanded his sacking, accused him of having displayed a ‘perverse’ attitude towards women.
The BJP also sought to distance itself from its leader's sexist comments with its national spokesperson Sambit Patra saying in New Delhi that his party clearly believes that everybody, bet it women or any other section of the society, should be respected in politics.
"Except for being beautiful, I see no quality that Priyanka Gandhi Vadra may be credited with. Nature has showered its bounty on her. But the Congress should remember that beauty does not garner votes. She is also a novice and her husband faces serious corruption charges," Jha said in Patna replying to a query from a journalist on Vadra's entry into active politics.
Vadra was appointed the Congress general secretary in charge of eastern Uttar Pradesh earlier this week.
JD-U MLC Ashok Choudhary said, "This is definitely not a remark we would approve of. Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has an undeniable charisma and aura which may or may not bring desired results in the elections. But the way she has been spoken about does not appear to be in good taste."
“Jha seems to have forgotten that he had been a paid staff of Youth Congress when Rajiv Gandhi was at the helm of affairs. And now he is making such a disgusting remark against the late Prime Minister's daughter. Nitish Kumar should sack him immediately and try to give him additional security as his foul utterances could lead to serious reactions from the Congress cadre," Congress MLC Prem Chandra Mishra said.
RJD national vice-president Raghuvansh Prasad Singh said the remark is deplorable. The minister should be immediately sacked by Nitish Kumar, else there will be serious consequences, he said.
"The remark makes our blood boil. It betrays a perverse attitude towards women on part of the state minister. In the past, BJP leaders have made unsavoury comments about Sonia Gandhi's fair complexion.
“I would like to caution women in the BJP rank and file that in the midst of such perverts they must worry about their own security and dignity," RJD MLA and spokesperson Ejya Yadav said.
Congress MLA from Benipatti constituency Bhavna Jha remarked sarcastically, "Vinod Narayan Jha was defeated by me - an ordinary party worker -- in the last assembly polls. It is natural for him to feel scared of Priyanka Gandhi Vadra. He may be upset with Priyanka's beauty since he himself is not bestowed with good looks."