The coal minister, however, defended himself by saying that the media has quoted him out of context
Virendra Nath Bhatt
In a classic case of foot-in-the-mouth disease, Union coal minister Sriprakash Jaiswal on Monday, already mired in coal scam, claimed in Kanpur that “old wives lose charm over time”. Jaisawal shot off his mouth, while addressing a `Kavi Sammelan’ organised in Kanpur on the occasion of his birthday on 1 October.
“Patnee purane ho jatee hai phir woh mazaa nahin rahtaa hai (when wives become old, there is no fun to be had)”, said Jaiswal during a Kavi Sammelan that was organised at a girls’ college in Kidwai Nagar locality, Kanpur. Jaiswal is a second term Congress MP from Kanpur. The Union minister made these comments while congratulating people on Indian cricket team’s win over Pakistan at the 20-20 World Cup match. While talking about the win, the coal minister said, “The victory is an old news it’s like a wife of many years, becomes less charming as time goes by.”
Reacting to howls of protest that his comments generated, particularly from women’s organisations and political parties, Jaiswal blamed the media for quoting him out of context. He also offered apologies, if his statement has hurt the sentiment of people.
However, defending his statement Jaiswal said, “The context of my statement has been twisted; there would be no scope for any complaint if the statement is seen in the context.” He said that his statement’s context and word should not be deleted, adding, “I had no intention to hurt any sentiments, but I offer my apologies if my comments have hurt anyone.”
Women’s groups are up in arms over Jaiswal’s controversial comments. Leading the protest is the National Commission for Women (NCW). “I will take up the matter with the Prime Minister and the party high command. The minister has insulted half of the population of the country by his remarks, which are not only unparliamentarily but most indecent,” said Mamta Sharma, chairperson, NCW. She added that the NCW demands an unconditional apology from the Union minister. Taking cognizance of the remarks by the Union minister, the Congress has also asked Jaiswal to clarify his comments.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) also took the opportunity to attack the Congress leader. BJP leader Nirmala Sitharaman slammed Jaiswal saying, “We can judge the standard of Congress on the basis of these utterances, how low can they go.”
BJP leader Smriti Irani said the remarks of the Union minister reflect his hatred for women. “The Union coal minister already tainted in coal scam is now doing the same with his party. I would like to know from Congress president Sonia Gandhi whether she subscribes to the enlightened view of the Union minister,” said Irani. The workers of the women wing of the BJP in Kanpur burnt effigies Jaiswal to protest against his remarks.
This is not the first time that Jaiswal has landed in trouble for shooting his mouth off. Earlier this year in February, when the Assembly polls for the UP Assembly were underway, Jaiswal had created a stir by claiming that he saw the prospect of President’s Rule in the state if the Congress did not get a majority in the elections. He had then said, “If Congress gets majority then it will form the government…in case we don’t get clear majority, we sit in the opposition and I see no alternative but Governor’s rule.” The minister then too had claimed that he was misquoted and his statement was twisted by the media.
In the same month Jaiswal had caused embarrassment to the Congress by saying that “Rahul Gandhi could become PM, if so desired even at midnight.”
Virendra Nath Bhatt is a Special Correspondent with Tehelka.