President Pranab Mukherjee’s son Abhijit’s dismissal of the recent protests in New Delhi was met with angry reactions by several leaders of the political opposition as well civil society.
Within hours of what were perceived as disparaging comments against women, the President’s daughter Sharmishtha Mukherjee stepped in with an apology and even criticised her brother for his remarks.
Speaking to a new channel (ABP news) Ms. Mukherjee said though she was unaware of the context in which the comment was made, she did not condone what was said. “Honestly, I am shocked,” she told the channel.
Ms. Mukherjee said both her father and she can identify with the public outrage; and see the protests that have erupted across the country as a manifestation of accumulated anger. She said her father recently asked the people to remain calm, but did not question the anger.
“As his [Abhijit’s] sister I apologise to all women and all sensitive men,” she told the channel.
Her apology, however, did little to assuage tempers. Senior Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Brinda Karat criticised the President’s son for his “sexist remarks”.
“It is deplorable that an elected MP can make a statement like this. The fact that he does not look at their anger, rage and concern, shows that his gaze reflects his sexist mentality. Even his apology is not unconditional, he has added ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ to it, which is very unfortunate,” she said.
Ms. Karat went on to add: “We have a generally long notorious list of elected persons from across all parties who make such statements. It is time for Parliament to take measures like initiate a code of conduct for gender sensitive standards, so that elected representatives will think twice before making such comments.”
On social networking sites, too, rage over the comments was apparent. Writer Shobha De on micro blogging site Twitter said: “Proud to be a dented, painted disco dancer! Better that than being a badey baap ka dumb beta!”
Angry reactions poured in from actors as well. Shabana Azmi wrote, “Should Abhijeet Mukherjee’s sexist comment about women protesters being 'dented and painted' be reciprocated with 'damning and shamming'?” while her colleague Anupam Kher said: “Abhijit Mukherjee is one of those mentally bankrupt politicians who are completely unaware of reality of Modern India. He needs treatment.”