PATNA: A senior BJP leader and minister in Bihar’s NDA government sparked a row on Friday by saying that newly anointed Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi is “very beautiful and has no other skills,” prompting the state’s Opposition Grand Alliance to call for his dismissal from the cabinet.
“Priyanka Gandhi is very beautiful. I see no other skills in her. She has no political experience. Even though she is 37 or 38 or maybe 44, she has no political attainments. God has given her beauty, but how much can that gift be exploited?” asked Vinod Narayan Jha, the public health and engineering department (PHED) minister.
Hitting out at Congress for formally inducting the latest Gandhi family scion into the party, the 61-year-old minister further said: “Priyanka Gandhi is the wife of the corrupt Robert Vadra, who is an accused in a land scam. He faces several cases for corrupt deals and illegal means of income”.
Congress leaders in Bihar, already enthused by Priyanka’s formal entry into the party, condemned Jha for his statements and demanded his dismissal from the state cabinet. They also warned of statewide protests unless Jha apologises.
“This is a very inappropriate and condemnable statement. There will be repercussions of such statements. It will be difficult for people like Vinod Narayan Jha to travel in Bihar. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar should either sack him from the state cabinet or provide him extra security,” said senior Congress leader and MLC Premchand Mishra.
Congress MLA Bhavna Jha, who had defeated Vinod in the last Assembly polls, said: “God has made Priyanka Gandhi beautiful and smart. If he (Vinod) does not find his own looks smart enough, it is God’s decision. If he had done good work in his constituency, he would not have shifted his constituency”.
“I myself defeated him (Vinod) in Benipatti. When a person like me could defeat him, only one Priyanka Gandhi is enough to defeat the entire BJP,” she added.
Senior RJD leader Bhai Birendra dubbed the minister’s words as “very cheap” and said: “Before making such cheap statements, he should have thought of the looks of his own mother and sisters”.
“BJP leaders are setting a trend in making unseemly remarks about women. They used to ridicule Sonia Gandhi’s fair skin and now they are ridiculing Priyanka Gandhi. This minister should be dismissed from the cabinet,” said RJD legislator Ejya Yadav. “I warn BJP’s women MPs and MLAs to beware of men in their own party as they are anti-women,” she added.
RJD vice-president Raghuvansh Prasad Singh said Nitish Kumar would have to “bear the consequences” unless he dismisses the minister. “Political parties differ in ideologies, but there is no place for such crude comments about a woman,” he added.
While BJP leaders maintained silence on the matter, senior JD(U) leader Ashok Chaudhary dubbed the minister’s statements as “inappropriate”. “No political leader from either the ruling parties or the Opposition should speak such words. They should choose their words carefully.”