BHOPAL: Former Madhya Pradesh chief minister and present state Congress chief Kamal Nath kicked up a political storm by referring to Jyotiraditya Scindia loyalist and cabinet minister Imarti Devi as an ‘item.’
Devi, the women and child development minister in Shivraj Singh Chouhan government and three-time former Congress MLA from Dabra (SC) seat, is seeking re-election now as a BJP candidate from the same seat of Gwalior district.
Interestingly, Devi held the same ministerial portfolio in Nath-led Congress government, which fell seven months back. Addressing a public meeting in support of Congress candidate Suresh Raje in Dabra assembly seat of Gwalior district, the ex-CM said, “Suresh Raje Ji hamare ummeedwar hain; saral swabhav ke seedhe saadhe hain….ye uske jaise nahi hain…kya hai uska naam, mai kya uska naam loon…aap toh usko mere se jyada pahchante hain…aap ko mujhe pahle hi savdhan kar dena chahiye thaa…ki ye kya item hai. (Suresh Raje our candidate here is a simple man and not like her. What’s her name, you all know her better than me, you all should have warned me…what an item!).”
While Nath made the controversial reference, another of his ex-cabinet colleague and Congress MLA Vijaylaxmi Sadho stood close to him on the public meeting stage.
“It’s shocking, how can a veteran politician like Kamal Nath make such disrespectful reference about one of our ministers, who was a cabinet minister in his government. This is shameful and amounts to disrespect to both women as well as Dalits,” said CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan.
By referring to a woman as "item", the Congress and its and leadership have revealed its "feudal mindset", Chouhan tweeted further.
The state’s PWD minister and senior BJP MLA Gopal Bhargava, while condemning Nath’s statements, questioned the former CM.
“How can Nath make such sexist remark against a woman politician, who was part of his own cabinet seven months back. Did Kamal Nath harbour similar feelings for her, while she was part of his government in Madhya Pradesh.”
Later, a BJP delegation met Election Commission officials in Bhopal and complained against Nath for "insulting women and Dalits".
Devi and 21 other MLAs loyal to Jyotiraditya Scindia had resigned from the Congress and the state Assembly and joined the BJP in March, in the process bringing down the Nath government.
Counting of votes of the bypolls will be held on November 10.
(With PTI Inputs)