New Delhi: Bihar politician Sharad Yadav was today pummeled in Parliament and on social media for his comments on “dark-skinned south Indian women” during a debate.
Mr Yadav, a parliamentarian of Bihar’s ruling Janata Dal United, was speaking in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday on the government’s bill for insurance reforms when he inexplicably launched into a rant on what he called the Indian obsession with fair skin.
He described the proposal to raise foreign investment from 26 to 49 per cent as a symptom of this obsession.
“In the entire country there are more saanvle (dark skinned) men. The women of south are beautiful, their bodies…their skin …We don’t see it here. They know dance,” said the 67-year-old, who was named outstanding Parliamentarian of 2012.
When DMK MP Kanimozhi objected, Mr Yadav said every discussion in Parliament need not be “serious”. “If lawmakers objectify women then how are they different from the others,” she told media.
Mr Yadav also referred to filmmaker Leslee Udwin, whose documentary on the December 16 gang-rape has sparked a huge debate. “She must have got permissions easily. All doors open for fair-skinned women,” he commented.
Members like Derek O’Brien tried to interrupt Mr Yadav and steer him back to the debate but he was unstoppable.
“What’s wrong with what I said?” Mr Yadav said today, refusing to apologise after the outrage over his statements.
But few leaders agreed with him.
“This kind of comment from one of our seniormost parliamentarians is absolutely appalling. It reeks of racism and misogyny,” said the BJP’s Sambit Patra.
“This is completely unacceptable,” NCP MP Vandana Chavan told NDTV.
“It’s shocking and highly objectionable. These remarks should be expunged and not allowed,” said senior CPM leader Brinda Karat.
Mr Yadav had in the past controversially used the term “parkati auratein (short-haired women)” to argue against the Women’s Quota Bill.
An apology did come, but not from Mr Yadav’s party colleague KC Tyagi, who said, “If his comments have hurt anyone I want to apologise. But Sharad Yadav only spoke as a father figure… even so if anyone is hurt I say sorry with folded hands.”