New Delhi: Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Saturday stood by his “misogynist” remark he made against Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman earlier this week saying that he would have made “a very similar comment if it had been a man”.
Addressing a press conference in Dubai, Rahul maintained that Prime Minister Narendra Modi should have defended himself in the Lok Sabha over the Rafale fighter jet deal.
"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,” the Congress chief said.
"I would have made a very similar comment if it had been a man. 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," Gandhi further said.
He said the Congress has not yet got the answer whether Defence Ministry officials objected to the Prime Minister "bypassing" the Rafale deal.
Nirmala Sitharaman had spoken on behalf of PM Modi and defended the Rafale deal in the Lok Sabha, countering questions raised by Congress and other opposition parties.
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.