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The National Commission for Women has issued a notice to Congress President Rahul Gandhi for his “misogynistic and unethical” remarks against Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman wherein he said that instead of coming to parliament answering questions about the Rafale deal, Prime Minister Narendra Modi got a “woman” to defend him.

“The watchman with a 56-inch chest ran away and told a woman, Sitharaman ji, 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,” Rahul said, using the Hindi word ‘mahila’ for a woman, at a rally.

“What is @Rahul Gandhi trying to imply with his misogynistic statement… ek mahilaye se kaha meri raksha kijiye. Does he think women are weak?” the NCW chief Rekha Sharma tweeted.

Criticising Gandhi’s remarks, Sharma said he needs to respect women. “He should explain his statement and should have apologised… Nirmala Sitharaman is the Defence Minister of India… we did not expect such statements by the president of a party which gave India its first and only female PM. What did Gandhi mean when he said ‘be a man’?”

In a public meeting in Agra, Modi had reacted strongly to Gandhi’s remark and called him sexist. “Our defence minister shut the opposition leaders in Parliament and exposed all their lies, so they have resorted to insulting her now. This is an insult to the women in the country,” the PM said. He added that Sitharaman defended the Rafale deal strongly.

Reacting to the prime minister’s scathing criticism, Gandhi tweeted: “With all due respect Modiji, in our culture respect for women begins at home”.

—India Legal Bureau

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