The Trinamul Congress conducted protests through Thursday, led by senior women legislators in New Delhi and Calcutta, expressing outrage against Giriraj Singh’s “misogynist” remarks against Mamata Banerjee and demanding his removal from the Union cabinet.
Although the chief minister remained mum on the matter, half-a-dozen women MPs of her party led a silent demonstration by the Gandhi statue in the Parliament complex in New Delhi. The women’s wing of Trinamul led a silent agitation at the Hazra crossing here.
Led by industry minister Shashi Panja, Trinamul unequivocally condemned the Union rural development minister and his party over his controversial choice of words.
“We are outraged, and ask the BJP who gave them the right to insult a woman. The minister withholding rightful dues of 21 lakh MGNREGA workers in Bengal, including women, is also making appalling remarks about the country’s only woman chief minister,” said Panja.
In an interview with ABP Ananda on Wednesday, Singh made a contentious choice of words against Mamata’s grooving on stage at the Kolkata International Film Festival inauguration the previous day, alongside Bollywood celebrities Salman Khan, Sonakshi Sinha, Mahesh Bhatt and Anil Kapoor.
At the Gandhi statue in the Parliament complex, Trinamul’s Rajya Sabha member Mausam Noor said: “We here demand his immediate removal from the Union cabinet.”
“He has no place there, after this,” added Noor. The party’s Krishnanagar MP Mahua Moitra, Birbhum MP Satabdi Roy, Calcutta South MP Mala Roy, Joynagar MP Pratima Mondal and Arambagh MP Aparupa Poddar also took part in the protest.
“This is the problem with the BJP and its ministers. They are absolutely shameless. You know what, they dislike women. They cannot handle women in positions of power, of authority. They are misogynistic to the core,” said Moitra.
Within hours of the interview being telecast, Singh went from defiance to denial, claiming he had never used the word that triggered the controversy.
“The funny part is, Mr Singh, he says this on record, and then in the evening, he says ‘mainey toh… nahi kaha (but I did not say…)’. So they are liars, from top to bottom. Everyone in the BJP, from the highest cabinet minister to the lowest worker, every time their lips move it is to lie,” said Moitra.
“We expect an apology, but he is never going to make it, because he is now claiming he didn’t even say it. We just want India to know that this is the kind of misogyny and patriarchy that the BJP exercises,” she added.
The BJP’s state leadership, however, doubled down on the matter.
Suvendu Adhikari, the leader of the Opposition in the Assembly, said: “The issue of Giriraj Singh is very clear. I support what he said.”
Adhikari sought to defend Singh with the feeble logic of the remarks being aimed at Mamata as the chief minister and not the individual.
“What he said, he said about the chief minister. It was not a personal attack,” the Nandigram MLA said on the Assembly premises.
“The chief minister should have focused on the real issues, but she is focused in other directions, such as amusement,” he added.
Trinamul responded with scorn. “The leader of the Opposition has approved of the statement by Singh. The BJP is endorsing these statements, which focus on hatred against women and are aimed at women’s disempowerment,” said industry minister Panja at the Hazra crossing agitation.