Non-BJP parties pitched into Narendra Modi on Thursday for his reported comments that Gujarat had recorded high levels of malnutrition because young girls tended to be beauty-conscious.
The Wall Street Journal carried an interview with the Gujarat Chief Minister where his reply to a question on malnutrition was that his State was largely vegetarian and middle class, which was more beauty-conscious than health-conscious: “Gujarat is by and large a vegetarian State. And secondly, Gujarat is also a middle-class State. The middle-class is more beauty-conscious than health-conscious – that is a challenge. If a mother tells her daughter to have milk, they’ll have a fight. She’ll tell her mother, ‘I won’t drink milk, I’ll get fat.’”
Speaking to reporters outside Parliament, Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting Ambika Soni accused Mr. Modi of trivialising a serious issue. She wondered how he could claim to be a good administrator if his attitude to social and gender problems was so immature.
The Nationalist Congress Party was shocked that a Chief Minister could make a joke of deprivation. Lalu Prasad of the Rashtriya Janata Dal asked Mr. Modi to withdraw the comment.
However, the BJP dismissed the growing protests. Party spokesperson Prakash Javdekar said the Congress had become so Modiphobic that it spotted the Gujarat Chief Minister everywhere.
“Congress ko Modi pani me aur paththar me bhi dikhten hain (The Congress sees Modi in stone and water).”