Madhya Pradesh Minister Kailash Vijaywargiya was at the centre of a controversy today over his remark that women must not cross the 'Lakshman rekha' to avoid unwanted consequences, prompting an embarrassed BJP to disassociate itself from the comment.
As the remark sparked an outrage, BJP asked the minister to also withdraw the remark.
Congress dubbed as "shameful" the remark that came against the backdrop of a sombre mood in the country after the Delhi gangrape incident and a rash of crimes against women. It also demanded immediate dismissal of the minister.
"Only when Sitaji crossed the Lakshman rekha, she was kidnapped by Ravan...If Sitaji (woman) crosses the Lakshman rekha, then 'Sitaharan' (crime against them) is bound to take place as Ravans are out there," Vijaywargiya said, invoking an incident from epic Ramayana while seeking to explain the reason behind the recent spate of crimes against women.
"When people cross their limits, deterioration is bound to happen. It applies to everyone in the society, men or women," the state industries minister said.
The remark did not go down well with the BJP.
"The party(BJP) does not approve of it and disassociates itself from the same and the party has asked the Minister Kailash Vijayvargiya to kindly withdraw it," BJP spokesperson Ravishankar Prasad told reporters in New Delhi.
Vijayvargiya said he apologises for the remark if it had hurt the sentiments of women activists."If women activists have been hurt by my statement, then I am sorry."
Clarifying that the "Lakshman rekha' remark was misunderstood, he said if it was being considered as against women only, then he has no problems in withdrawing it.
"Let me clarify that my statement was not women centric and it is applicable to all in the society...Politicians, media. But if it is being considered only against women then I have no problem in withdrawing it," Vijaywargiya told reporters after +Padd Pujan+ (worshipping feet of women) at Rau, near Indore.
The minister's remark drew sharp reaction from Congress with AICC General Secretary and former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Digvijaya Singh.
"In Madhya Pradesh, the Chief Minister is running beti bachao andolan and many other schemes for women and calls himself a 'brother' to all the women. If he is thinking in interest of women then he should ask for Vijayvargiya's resignation," he said.
Leader of Opposition in the MP Assembly Ajay Singh described the remark as "shameful" and demanded the minister's immediate dismissal.
BJP had demanded a special session of Parliament to discuss women-related issues and Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan had yesterday spoken about the need to be sensitive towards rape victims after a meeting with Chief Justice of the high court, Singh said.
"All this has no meaning if he (the Chief Minister) cannot muster courage to dismiss Vijayawargiya who has insulted Indian womanhood," he said.
Elaborating on his remarks, Vijaywargiya said he claimed that his statement was presented in a distorted manner by the media and it appears as if he has said something against women.
"However, this is not the fact," he said.
The Minister clarified he had only said that everyone in the society should live in their own limitations.
"Everyone has its own Lakshman rekha (boundary) and if anybody tries to cross it then Ravan (demons) are always present in the society," he said.
Answering a question, Vijaywargiya said, "in this country women were worshipped as a goddess. Therefore, they should dress in a manner that people have high respects for them."
He further said, "if the country worships them as a goddess then they should also introspect on their role."
Meanwhile, Madhya Pradesh Congress today staged a protest over Vijaywargiya's comments and demanded his dismissal from the state Cabinet.
Carrying placards, the protesters raised slogans against the BJP, Vijaywargiya and RSS.
Chairman of Madhya Pradesh Congress Committee's media department Manak Agrawal demanded that Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan dismiss Vijaywargiya from the Cabinet over the comment, which he said, shows that the minister has no respect for women.