‘Do not impose your sexism on me’: Rahul Gandhi defends his ‘mahila’ remark about Sitharaman

Addressing a press conference in Dubai, Gandhi maintained his stand that PM Modi should have defended himself in parliament on the deal to purchase 36 Rafale jets from France.

New Delhi: Rahul Gandhi stood by his controversial remarks earlier this week targeting Defence Minister and Prime Miister Narendra Modi on the Rafale deal. The Congress president said he would have made similar comments had a man been there in place of Sitharaman.

Addressing a press conference in Dubai, Gandhi maintained his stand that PM Modi should have defended himself in parliament on the deal to purchase 36 Rafale jets from France.

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi has helped Anil Ambani steal Rs. 30,000 crore and the House of the people Lok Sabha is where he should have defended himself but he chose to send another person and that person happened to be a woman. I would have made a very similar comment if it had been a man,” news agency PTI quoted the Congress president as saying on Saturday.

Gandhi also refused to be drawn into allegations of sexism against him. “Do not impose your sexism on me. I am very clear that the prime minister should have delivered that defence but he did not have the guts,” he added.

A huge row erupted after Rahul Gandhi while addressing a rally in Jaipur on Wednesday, said that PM Modi had got a woman to defend him in Parliament on the Rafale fighter jet deal.

“The watchman with a 56-inch chest ran away and told a woman, (Nirmala) Sitharamanji, defend me. I won’t be able to defend myself, defend me. For two and a half hours, the woman could not defend him. I had asked a straight question – answer yes or no – but she couldn’t answer,” he had said.

His comments drew sharp criticism from the BJP with Union Minister Sushma Swaraj accusing him of marking a “new low” in Indian politics. Smriti Irani followed with a tweet with the hashtag “Misogynist Rahul”.

PM Modi also slammed Rahul and accused him of insulting “India’s first woman defence minister”.

“For the first time, a daughter of the country has become defence minister. Our defence minister silenced all the opposition parties in parliament (on Rafale) and exposed their lies. They were so stunned that now they are insulting a woman defence minister. They are insulting India’s women power,” the Prime Minister said at a rally in Agra.

(With inputs from PTI)