In 2014…

Rahul Gandhi and millions of youngsters in this country want to change the way the system in this country works. What Rahul Gandhi wants to do is empower the women in this country, wants to unleash the power of these women.

August 2018…

India needs to change…Men have to start viewing women as equal and with respect. I am sorry to say that men do not.

(Rahul Gandhi, in an interaction with students of Bucerius Summer school, Hamburg in the context of violence against women in India)

Cut to Present

Speaking at a kisan rally in Jaipur on Wednesday, Rahul Gandhi said, “Janta ki adaalat se 56-inch ki chaati wala chowkidaar bhaag gaya. Aur ek mahila se kehta hai sitharaman ji aap meri raksha kijiye, main apni raksha nahi kar paunga, aap meri raksha kijiye. Aapne dekha 2.5 hours mahila raksha nahi kar payi. (The 56-inch-chest chowkidaar ran away from the Lok Sabha. And he asked a woman, ‘Sitharaman ji please defend me, I would not be able to defend myself’. You all must have seen that for 2.5 hours, the woman failed to defend him.)”

 I say, what just happened.

Journeying from the labels of Shehazada to a Pappu, Rahul Gandhi was just beginning to gather respect as he was termed Param Pujya after he won the assembly elections last year, even though it was cited more as a loss of the opposition than a win for Rahul. 

After taking over the reins of the party, Rahul has combined conventional outreach with active presence on social media, has been the bridge between the new department leaders and has been working very hard to bring the party back to power.  He has been, on the right track.

So again, what just happened?

Grandson of Iron lady Indira Gandhi, son of the strong Sonia cannot be shooting without filters from his mouth. I have several problems with his recent statement.

The fact that he chooses to address the Defence Minister as Sitharaman ji, a deliberate ploy to emphasise the ‘Sita’ factor. In a recent book, Sita has been personified as a warrior, and not so much as the meek Sita of the epic. Times have changed and so has the interpretation of the epic and there is a conclusion that Sita may have been a trained warrior by all logic.

Was he trying to say that instead of the men protecting or rescuing Sita, the situation is ironical that Sita is doing the protecting and rescuing.

The fact that he references the gender of the defence minister. He could have stopped at Nirmala ji or Defence Minister and the concern that defence minister was left to answer the opposition in place of the Leader would have been a valid point and the focus of all questions.

Was he trying to say that instead of the men protecting or rescuing Sita, the situation is ironical that Sita is doing the protecting and rescuing.

I have this concern that Rahul opined that a woman could not be seen as the one protecting or defending a man. Is he trying to say that a woman is weak or in this case not smart enough to answer sticky questions or handle a difficult situation?

Is he trying to say that a woman is weak or in this case not smart enough to answer sticky questions or handle a difficult situation?

That Rahul Gandhi who has been surrounded by strong women in his own household would have the guts to speak openly in a misogynist manner. Has he never been protected or defended by a woman in his household?  And why is it not acceptable to be guarded by a woman? In his own words, “With all due respect Modiji, in our culture respect for women begins at home.” Doesn’t this statement raises the bar of expectations with Rahul on his view on women?

The misogynist statement is offensive in any corner of the world, more so in a state like Rajasthan which is the seat of misogyny and gender equality – the statement is clearly made to draw a reaction favourable to him.

I can only say, Rahul Gandhi, time to clean up those filters.

Riti Prasad is the author of Double Trouble, Double Fun!: A Supermom’s Guide to Raising Twins, Wicked Temptations and Mathematics Fun, Fact and Fiction. She works in the Fragrance Industry as Creation Head. The views expressed are the author’s own.

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