Rajya Sabha today witnessed an uproar over alleged derogatory remarks by a BJP leader in Uttar Pradesh against BSP chief Mayawati, forcing Leader of House Arun Jaitley to condemn it and express regret.
The issue was raised by Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad who said though his party had political differences with the BSP, it will not allow any such remark to be made against a woman, who is also a leader of a political party and has been a four-time Chief Minister.
He said the use of words by the BJP leader only reflected his mindset and a case should be registered against him under laws on atrocities against SCs/STs.
Azad demanded that the person be arrested and added that "someone with such a mentality should have no place in any party or hold any office in any party."
Jaitley on his part said he was not aware of the incident till Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi apprised him few minutes back.
"It is not right and I condemn the use of such words and I will look into this matter. I express personal regrets. I associate our dignity with yours and stand with you," Jaitley said.
Mayawati's responded in anguish saying "I did not marry and considered the entire country's oppressed as my family. I have always followed my mentor Kanshi Ram's advice to take (donation) from the underprivileged and not industrialists," she said, adding that the BJP was perturbed by the huge support her party was getting in Uttar Pradesh.
Observing that she was "grateful" to Jaitley and the opposition leaders for supporting her, Mayawati said "What that BJP leader (from UP) has said, he said it not to me but to his sister and his daughter because people treat me like their daughter and sister. The country will not forgive the BJP for encouraging such people."
She warned the government that she will not be responsible if people hit the streets over the issue.
The controversy came at a time when the opposition was trying to corner the government over the beating up of four Dalit men in Gujarat for skinning a dead cow, with the House being repeatedly adjourned during the day.
BSP leader S C Mishra and Congress leader Digvijaya Singh also sought action against the BJP leader under SC/ST Act.
The opposition wanted passage of a unanimous resolution condemning the remarks. Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha P J Kurien said the entire house unanimously condemns the remark and asked the government to ensure that strictest action is taken against the person who made the statement as per the law.
Mayawati also reminded members that though her political fight was very sharp, she has never used foul language against her opponents.
Leaders from various political parties condemned the remarks. One of the most forceful one was Renuka Choudhry who spoke in anger.
"An incident has happened again," she said as she took on the BJP and the Centre over the issue. She said women MPs "don't leave the house and come to the House for entertainment of these people".
Pointing to the treasury benches, she said that "mere lip service won't do and the person who has made the statement should be made an example of."
DMK member Kanimozhi said the kinds of words used against Mayawati was unacceptable. "It is a shameful act and if this is said to a leader like Mayawati, then I wonder what is the state of common women," she said.
TMC leader Derek O'Brien too condemned the incident and said lady members from the treasury benches should rise and condemn the remarks. But the request that did not bear any fruit.