MP Congress chief Patwari's remarks on BJP leader Imarti Devi spark controversy ahead of polls

Congress leader says his comments were distorted as the BJP calls for state-wide protests; Patwari booked following Imarti's complaint.
Madhya Pradesh Congress chief Jitu Patwari.
Madhya Pradesh Congress chief Jitu Patwari.Photo | ANI

BHOPAL: A video of Madhya Pradesh Congress chief Jitu Patwari making an off-the-cuff remark in response to a question about Imarti Devi, a loyalist of BJP leader and Guna Lok Sabha candidate Jyotiraditya Scindia, went viral on Thursday night, landing him in hot water.

In response to a query about Imarti urging voters to support Congress candidates in the Gwalior-Chambal region, Patwari had said, "Dekho aisa hai ab Imartiji ka ras khatam ho gaya, jo andar chaashni hoti hai, unke liye mai kuch baat nahi karoonga (The juice in Imarti Devi is no longer there. I won’t talk about the sugary syrup anymore)."

This set off a political slugfest in the state, with Patwari apologising for his deregatory remarks ahead of the third phase of Lok Sabha polls on May 7.

Patwari also clarified that his intention was not to hurt anyone's feelings and that his statement was being twisted and presented out of context.

"Yesterday, I was questioned about an audio clip there. At that moment, my intention was only to avoid that question. The remark I made in that context is being twisted and presented out of context. Imarti Devi ji is my elder sister, and an elder sister is just like a mother. So, I will only say that my context was only to avoid the question, apart from that, I had no other intention. Still, if anyone's feelings have been hurt in any way, I express regret and apologise," the state congress chief issued a clarification.

He further explained that he neither harboured any negativity nor had any intention to make fun of her, and his context was misunderstood. "There was no negativity of any kind in my mind, nor was my intention to make fun. The only intention was to avoid the question. I apologise, and my context was misunderstood," the Congress leader added.

Meanwhile, Imarti Devi lodged a complaint against Patwari, leading to the Congress leader being booked under IPC Section 509 (insulting the modesty of a woman) and the provision of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 2015, at the Dabra police station in Gwalior district.

While condemning Patwari’s statement in Ashok Nagar district, the BJP leader also demanded that the national Congress leadership sack him as the state Congress chief immediately.

The controversy snoballed further, with BJP leaders in the state calling for protests against Patwari across the state.

State minister Krishna Gaur, while dubbing Patwari’s remarks as "anti-women" and "anti-Dalit," claimed that the state Congress chief’s remarks "exposed what Congress and its leaders feel about women."

While reading out a long list of objectionable remarks made by Congress leaders about women in the past, Gaur questioned why the Congress leadership has stayed silent over Patwari’s remarks.

"We want to know what Sonia Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra have to say about Patwari’s remark. Their silence over the issue will mean they are supportive of Patwari’s remarks. We demand Patwari’s resignation as MP Congress chief. The BJP will protest against Patwari wherever he goes in the state," Gaur said.

The BJP cadre held protests in Indore, the home district of Patwari. He also faced protests from BJP workers while campaigning for the Congress candidate, Ramu Tekam, in Betul district, leading to a confrontation with both party workers before police intervention.

Imarti Devi belongs to the Scheduled Caste community and has twice served as a minister in the state. She is a former Congress leader and a loyalist of Union Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia, who switched sides to the saffron camp during a political upheaval in 2020. However, after joining the BJP, she contested a bye-election and lost.

Patwari’s remarks may particularly work against the Congress as Imarti hails from the Gwalior-Chambal region, which goes to polls in the third phase on May 7.

The Scheduled Caste voters hold the key to all four seats in the region.

This isn’t the first time that Imarti Devi has been the target of a senior Congress leader. Earlier, former chief minister Kamal Nath also sparked controversy after he allegedly referred to her as an "item."

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