Kumaraswamy's 'rural women have lost their way' comment sparks row

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Bengaluru, Apr 14 (PTI) JD(S) leader H D Kumaraswamy's comment that women in rural areas have "lost their way" because of the five guarantee schemes introduced by the Congress government in Karnataka, has elicited sharp reactions from the ruling party.

Some women Congress workers staged a protest with "Go back Kumaraswamy" slogans and placards in Mandya, from where the former Chief Minister is contesting the Lok Sabha elections.

With Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and Deputy Chief Minister D K Shivakumar also attacking him over his comments, Kumaraswamy sought to clarify by stating he was only cautioning the womenfolk about their "innocence being misused" by the Congress administration in the name of guarantee schemes and that he did not insult them.

Questioning from whose pockets, the government is funding guarantee schemes, Kumaraswamy during a roadshow in Tumakuru on Saturday said, "This government (state) in the last election had announced five guarantees, (because of which), our mothers in the villages have lost their way. One should think about what will happen to their livelihood and that of their families." "They (Congress) don't have anything other than five guarantees, every day advertising about guarantees in newspapers with CM and Deputy CM photos, they have spent over Rs 300 crore," he said.

Sharply reacting to Kumaraswamy's remark, Siddaramaiah in Madikeri on Sunday said it shows his mindset and his feelings for women.

"What does he mean by saying -- they have lost their way? Being a two-time Chief Minister, if he speaks about women in such a way, will people tolerate it?" he said.

Pointing out that Kumaraswamy is a former CM, son of a former PM and head of JD(S), Shivakumar said, "...I'm feeling deeply pained and don't want to respond (to such comments). Self-respecting women of the state are making thousands of phone calls to me, there is a situation as though the womenfolk seem to be ready for an uprising (against Kumaraswamy's statement)." Noting that crores of women are getting benefited from the guarantee schemes, he said, "If he (Kumaraswamy) says, women have lost their way because of these schemes, I won't ask him to apologise (for comments)...PM Modi, Union Ministers Nirmala Sitharaman, Smriti Irani have to respond to this, as he is a NDA partner now. No one can tolerate such insulting comments against our mothers and sisters." Clarifying on his statement, Kumaraswamy said Congress doesn't have anything else to discuss about him other than this.

"What I said yesterday is, in the name of guarantees, attempts are being made to mislead you - the innocent women from villages. I told them -- without giving you strength, they (Congress govt) are trying to keep you in a position where you seek alms, and be aware of it, without losing your way...," he said.

Stating that he has lots of respect for women, who have given him strength to survive in politics, Kumaraswamy further said, "women are like my mother and sisters and I have always worked for them. I need not learn from Congress, nor is there a need for me to respond to them." PTI KSU RS SS