Congress president Rahul Gandhi has stood by the remarks he made against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman during a rally in Rajasthan over the controversial Rafale deal earlier this week. Talking to reporters in Dubai on Saturday, the Congress chief said that instead of defending himself the prime minister chose another person and that he would have said the same thing if it had been a man.
"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. I would have made a very similar comment if it had been a man," news agency PTI quoted the Congress president as saying.
A controversy had erupted following the Congress leader’s "mahila" remark to mock Modi for not defending the Rafael fighter jet deal in Parliament. "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," Gandhi had said at a rally in Rajasthan on Wednesday.
Following the remarks, several women BJP leaders expressed their protest. Union Ministers Sushma Swaraj and Smriti Irani took to Twitter to slam the Congress chief. While Swaraj termed Gandhi’s remark “a new low in Indian politics”, Irani called Gandhi a “Misogynist”.
However, the Congress chief didn’t indulge in the debate on sexism and stayed put with the Rafale deal. “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," he said.
While Modi didn’t face the Congress chief in Parliament, he called him out during a public rally in Uttar Pradesh’s Agra. He accused Rahul Gandhi of "insulting a woman defence minister" but didn’t answer the question on Rafale deal.
"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 PM had said.