Guna (MP)/Patna, Nov 8 (PTI) Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday tore into Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar over his population control remarks, saying he did not even feel ashamed for using "derogatory" language against women, even as the JD(U) leader apologised for the comments that sparked a huge row.
Modi also slammed the opposition bloc INDIA and wondered why no leader of its constituents have uttered a word yet despite the “big disrespect” shown to women by a key leader of the grouping.
Facing mounting flak for his remarks made in the Bihar Legislative Assembly and Council on Tuesday on the importance of women's education to control population growth, Nitish Kumar apologised in both Houses, which witnessed chaos, as well as outside and retracted his statement.
The National Commission for Women(NCW), meanwhile, shot off a letter to the Assembly Speaker demanding "strong action" against the chief minister for using "derogatory and cheap language". Its chief Rekha Sharma was also locked in a war of words with Shiv Sena (UBT) MP Priyanka Chaturvedi.
Addressing a rally in Guna in poll-bound Madhya Pradesh, Modi said he will do whatever he can to ensure the respect of women, and also brought up Nitish Kumar's remarks without taking his name.
“Yesterday, one of the INDI alliance’s big leaders who is holding the bloc’s flag high and playing different games to unseat the present government (at the Centre) used a language, which no one can even think of in a state assembly in the presence of mothers and sisters... he didn’t even feel ashamed of it,” said Modi.
Nitish Kumar, while emphasising the importance of education among women to control the population, on Tuesday put forward a vivid description of how an educated woman can restrain her husband during sexual intercourse.
“Those having such a vision, how can they keep your honour and respect? How low will they stoop? What an unfortunate situation for the country. I will do whatever I can to ensure your honour and respect,” Modi said.
“He (Nitish Kumar) does not have shame. Not only this, no leader of INDI alliance uttered a word despite such big disrespect for women,” he said and asked, “Those who have such a view against mothers and sisters, can they do any good?” “Mothers and sisters, for your respect I will do whatever I can,” the prime minister asserted.
In Patna, Nitish Kumar was greeted at the Vidhan Sabha premises by a posse of MLAs, all belonging to the opposition BJP, carrying placards denouncing his utterances and demanding his resignation.
Nitish Kumar, the longest serving chief minister of Bihar, stood still at the entrance gate for some time, before marching towards a make-shift podium erected nearby, where leaders address journalists while the House is in session.
"I have come to know today that something I had said yesterday has not gone down well with many people. My intent was to highlight my government's thrust on women's empowerment and the role improved literacy among women plays in population control. Though if anybody's sentiments have been hurt, I seek an apology and take back my words," he said.
However, when the assembly session began at 11 am, BJP members led by the Leader of the Opposition Vijay Kumar Sinha trooped into the well, some of them even picking up chairs, meant for the reporting staff, to express their outrage.
The opposition members were raising slogans alleging that the CM had become "a mental case" and was hence unfit to govern Bihar.
Nitish Kumar rose in his seat and said, "I have told journalists outside that I am ready to apologise if my words were deemed to be offensive, even if I meant no offence. I condemn myself (hum apni ninda karte hain)." However, the opposition members continued to create a ruckus, demanding the CM's resignation.
The chief minister later went to the legislative council, where proceedings began at noon. BJP MLC Nivedita Singh, who had on the previous day voiced her outrage before journalists amid sobs, rose in her chair demanding the resignation of Nitish Kumar.
The chief minister said, "I offer my apology as I did earlier in front of journalists and on the floor of the assembly." Former Bihar chief minister Rabri Devi, an MLC from the RJD, told PTI Video that she agreed what Nitish Kumar had said was not proper "but we should let bygones be bygones since he has apologised".
"Let the BJP members not act too self-righteous. Their party rules Manipur where women were paraded naked. The state continues to be on fire and their leadership has been unconcerned," she said.
NCW chairperson Rekha Sharma, who sent the letter to the Assembly Speaker demanding "strong action against the chief minister", also came out with a strongly worded statement on X, urging opposition leaders like Priyanka Gandhi Vadra of the Congress to condemn Nitish Kumar, a key leader of the INDIA coalition.
Priyanka Chaturvedi hit back at Sharma, accusing her of being "biased and politically motivated".
While senior BJP leader Rajiv Pratap Rudy said Nitish Kumar's statement is an epitome of perversion, AIMIM president Asaduddin Owaisi said the chief minister by his "vulgar" remarks has sent a wrong message to the women of the country and Bihar.
JD(U) leader KC Tyagi, however, said there should be no politics over the chief minister's remarks.
"In parliamentary culture, if a minister takes his statement back and apologises for it, the matter should ideally be closed but if someone is still bringing it up it means they are doing politics," he said.
Activists of the Delhi BJP unit staged a demonstration near the Bihar Bhawan in the national capital and demanded Nitish Kumar's resignation. PTI MAS LAL VT PKD ANW SSS JRC NAC UZM GSN GSN GSN