New Delhi: Not content with raking up a controversy by claiming that his party had ‘prettier campaigners’ than Congress’ Priyanka Gandhi, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Vinay Katiyar on Wednesday dragged Union Textiles Minister Smriti Irani into the row.
In an interview to NDTV, Katiyar refused to apologise for his remarks on Priyanka and said, “I think Smriti Irani is (just) as beautiful and she is also campaigning.”
Grilled over his ‘sexist’ remarks and the ensuing controversy, Katiyar added, "I was responding to reporters. I said Priyanka is beautiful but others are beautiful too.”
He added that he had ‘huge respect’ for Priyanka and that ‘she can say what she likes’.
Priyanka is one of the star campaigners of Congress for the upcoming Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections and has also played an important role in forging an alliance between Congress and Samajwadi Party (SP).
To a question, the BJP's firebrand leader said, "It doesn't matter...there are girls and women who are more beautiful than her (Priyanka) and are also star campaigners.
"Some of them are artists and heroines...they are more beautiful than her," he said.
Katiyar also reportedly walked out of the interview following the barrage of questions.
Talking to reporters earlier, Katiyar tried to downplay his remarks saying it was an internal matter of Congress as to whom they want to appoint as their campaigner.
But, he added that if Congress is under the impression that they have the beautiful face of Priyanka for campaigning then to counter they also have many beautiful faces which BJP may ask to campaign for party.
However, he said, "It is wrong and unfair to compare beauty with capability but Congress is doing this."
Priyanka Gandhi was included in a list of 40 star campaigners that the Congress released on Tuesday. The 45-year-old has in earlier elections campaigned in the family constituencies of Raebareli and Amethi, and her party on Tuesday said she may confine herself to these constituencies even this time around.
However, she has still been included as a speaker in the first set of constituencies that will vote on February 4, which do not include Amethi and Raebareli.
Katiyar’s comments came even as JD (U) chief Sharad Yadav remarked on Tuesday that ‘the honour of a vote is more important than the honour of a daughter’.
In comments that raised the hackles of the National Commission for Women (NCW), Yadav said, "If a daughter loses honour, the village loses its honour. But if a vote is sold, the nation will lose its honour,” in an apparent exhortation to people to practice clean politics.
Ironically, Vinay Katiyar had condemned Yadav’s comments....