For making remarks derogatory to the dignity of women

Cracking the whip for the first time on errant Ministers, the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, Akhilesh Yadav, late on Saturday night sacked the Khadi and Gramudyog Minister, Raja Ram Pandey, apparently for making certain remarks derogatory to the dignity of women.

It was for the second time in the last couple of months that the Minister had made comments directed at women and the action taken showed that the Chief Minister had run out of patience.

Though no official explanation has been given for Mr. Pandey’s ouster, but sources said that the Minister’s sexist remarks at a function in Pratapgarh on Friday had cost him his chair.

The Samajwadi Party Government is already under fire for the illegal confinement of a 10-year-old girl in a police lock-up in Bulandshahr and the Minister’s comments had further embarrassed the Government.

Talking to newsmen after a function in his home district, Pratapgarh, the Minister had reportedly said that he would like the roads of his district to be like the “cheeks of Hema Malini and Madhuri Dixit”, two yesteryear actresses of Bollywood. The Minister reportedly likened the upkeep of roads to the facial done by women.

When the news was flashed on Saturday, the Minister’s comments were vehemently protested by several women organisations. Informed sources said that the Chief Minister took strong exception to the comments made by Mr. Pandey and decided to remove from his Council of Ministers. After Mr. Pandey’s sack, the Khadi and Gramudyog portfolio has been kept by the Chief Minister, a notification issued late on Saturday night said.

Mr. Pandey had earlier landed in trouble when at a public function in Sultanpur he had praised the District Magistrate for her beauty. He was served a notice by the State Women’s Commission, but managed to wriggle out of the controversy by stating that praising a woman for her beauty was not a crime.

Incidentally, the Samajwadi Party president, Mulayam Singh, had said on March 23 at a function to mark the birth anniversary of Ram Manohar Lohia that his party men should accord respect to women.