Opposition parties on Monday criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi after he asked the country to take a pledge to stop disrespecting women in his Independence Day speech.

“For some reason such a fault has come in us, in our speech, in our behaviour, in some of our words we insult women,” Modi said at the Red Fort. “Can we take a pledge to get rid of everything that insults women in our daily life, nature and culture.”

Following his speech, Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera posted a video compilation of the prime minister’s alleged derogatory remarks about women, including comments made about MP Renuka Chowdhury in the Rajya Sabha.

Modi had commented about Chowdhury’s laugh, apparently comparing it to that of Soorpanakha, a character in epic Ramayana.

“If anyone needs the most to take a pledge to respect women, then it is this person,” wrote Khera referring to Modi.

Trinamool Congress MP Derek O’ Brien posted a compilation of videos of Modi referring to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in a mocking tone by saying “Didi o Didi”.

In a sarcastic post, O’Brien agreed with Modi’s pledge and said that he should lead by example.

Shiv Sena MP Priyanka Chaturvedi said Modi’s words did not match his actions on the ground, reported The New Indian Express.

“If we look at Maharashtra not having any woman in Cabinet with even the women and child portfolios being handed by male ministers, even the labour force participation is rapidly decreasing and the government is not able to address them,” she said.

Communist Party of India General Secretary D Raja also asked the prime minister to examine the attitude of his own party leaders and workers about to women.

Raja said not just women, all humans should be treated with respect in society.

“This is not happening because the mindset is being controlled by a party which believes in the Manusmriti, patriarchy and caste system,” Raja claimed.

He added: “This government has the numbers in both the Houses of Parliament, yet they have not passed the women reservation Bill. His speech is mere rhetoric and there is no serious commitment whether towards women or towards the socially backward.”

PM stresses on gender equality

Stressing on gender equality, Modi said that everyone in this country is equal. He said that there is unity in a house only when the sons and daughters are treated equally.

“If the son and daughter are not equal, then there is no mantra of unity,” the prime minister said. “Gender equality is the first condition in our unity.”

Modi also paid tributes to India’s women freedom fighters, including Rani Lakshmi Bai and Begum Hazrat Mahal.

“Every Indian is filled with pride when they remember the strength of women of India,” he said.

Modi said that women were contributing in various sectors across the country, including judiciary, politics, science, law enforcement and sports.

“I am seeing that in the next 25 years women would be contributing multifold than what they did in the last 75 years,” he said.

The prime minister said the more we will give opportunities to women and provide them with facilities, they will give us a lot in return. “They will take the country to new heights,” Modi said.