Swati Maliwal of the Delhi Commission for Women reacted sharply to Union minister Smriti Irani’s allegation that Congress leader Rahul Gandhi blew a “flying kiss” towards the treasury benches which were booing him while he was leaving the Lok Sabha after his speech during the no-confidence motion debate on Wednesday.
“A supposed flying kiss thrown in the air ignited so much fire. A man named Brij Bhushan is sitting two rows back. The one who called Olympic wrestlers into the room and put his hand on their chest, put his hand on their waist and sexually assaulted them. Why don’t you get angry at what he did?” Swati Maliwal wrote on X (formally Twitter) amid a massive political row over the Congress leader’s action.
Maliwal was referring to sexual harassment charges levelled against outgoing Wrestling Federation of India chief and Bharatiya Janata Party MP Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh by six top wrestlers including Olympic medallists Bajranj Punia and Sakshi Malik.
After participating in the debate on the no-confidence motion in Lok Sabha, Gandhi blew a flying kiss, drawing sharp reactions from the treasury benches with Irani calling him a misogynist and saying the House had never witnessed such an “indecent act”.
BJP women MPs met Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla and demanded “stringent action” against Gandhi for his “inappropriate gesture”.
In a complaint, signed by more than 20 women parliamentarians, it was alleged that Gandhi behaved in an “indecent manner” which not only “insulted the dignity of women members in the House, but also brought disrepute and lowered the dignity of this august House”.
Coming out in defence of Gandhi, the Congress said he never disrespected women and the BJP was indulging in an “indecent” act of accusing him of “misconduct” as it does not want a debate on Manipur violence.
Congress whip in Lok Sabha Manickam Tagore accused Irani of suffering from “Rahul-phobia” and asked her to come out of it.
“Smriti Irani is consumed by ‘Rahul phobia’ and she should try to come out of it,” Tagore said on BJP’s charge of ‘misbehavior’ by Rahul Gandhi in Lok Sabha.
Party general secretary KC Venugopal said throughout the Bharat Jodo Yatra, “those who joined it and watched it, all are giving it as a symbol of humankind and love and affection”.
Shiv Sena (Uddhav Thackeray) MP Priyanka Chaturvedi also sought to defend Gandhi, saying “I was at the visitors gallery and he (Rahul Gandhi) did it as a gesture of affection. They (BJP) can’t accept love.”
“Why are they feeling bad about it? It was just a genuine gesture, that’s what he did. Like he said ‘mohabbat ki dukaan’. You people have got used to ‘nafrat’ (hatred), that is why you are not able to accept ‘mohabbat’ (love),” she said.
According to Jharkhand Congress MP Geeta Koda, Gandhi has always respected women and his behaviour has always been good.
Hugging without sexual intent not an offence: Brij Bhushan
The counsel for Brij Bhushan on Wednesday argued on the point of charges in sexual harassment case that hugging or touching a woman without a sexual intent is not an offence. The counsel also submitted before Rouse Avenue Court on the point of jurisdiction and limitations in the matter. He said the allegations are time-barred.
Additional chief metropolitan magistrate (ACMM) Harjeet Singh Jaspal heard the arguments advanced by advocate Rajiv Mohan, counsel for Brij Bhushan.
The matter has been listed for further arguments on Thursday.