The ruling RJD in Bihar on Saturday drew flak over comments of a top leader, who had said the Women's Reservation Bill in its current form would benefit only those wearing "lipstick" and sporting a "bob cut" hairstyle.
The remarks came from Abdul Bari Siddiqui, a close aide of RJD supremo Lalu Prasad and his son Tejashwi Yadav, the deputy chief minister of Bihar.
Siddiqui, who is RJD's principal national general secretary, made the comments at a function in Muzaffarpur, organised by the party's cell for extremely backward classes.
In a video clip that has gone viral on social media, Siddiqui can be heard making the remarks while stressing on the need for sub-quotas for women of weaker sections of the society.
The statement triggered outrage, especially from the BJP, which is in opposition in the state and hopes to cash in on the Women's Reservation Bill brought by its government at the Centre.
Senior BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad said Siddiqui's remarks "against women, sisters and daughters of the country" were "shameful, disgraceful, condemnable and shocking".
He alleged that the RJD stood only for helping Lalu Prasad and his family remain in power, a reason why it "did nothing" for women’s empowerment in Bihar, or at the Centre when it was an alliance partner of the Congress-led UPA government.
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's JD(U), which is RJD's ally, said it was on the same page with Siddiqui in seeking reservation for OBC and EBC women, but did not support mentions made about the "lipstick" and hairstyle.
JD(U) MLC Khalid Anwar said: “Women should be able to make their own choice in dress, make-up and hairstyle. We do not know the context in which a senior leader like Siddiqui Sahib made the remarks, but we cannot appreciate any utterance that goes against women’s freedom".
Meanwhile, Siddiqui, who is also a former state minister, told reporters "it was never my intention to insult women who carried themselves in a particular fashion. I request that my remarks not be seen out of context".
"The function where I spoke was attended by a large number of rural women, most of whom were uneducated. I was explaining to them in an idiom they could understand,” he added.
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