Courting Controversy

Rajya Sabha MP Naresh Agarwal apologises for remark against Jaya Bachchan

He had said it was not appropriate for the Samajwadi Party to sideline him to give a Rajya Sabha ticket to ‘someone who works in the film industry’.

Naresh Agarwal, who joined the Bharatiya Janata Party on Monday, has apologised for his statement expressing displeasure over the Samajwadi Party denying him a Rajya Sabha ticket for “someone who works in the film industry”. He was referring to actor-turned-politician Jaya Bachchan.

On Tuesday, Agarwal claimed he did not mean to hurt anyone, and the statement was “given a different angle by the media”, ANI reported. Agarwal is a Rajya Sabha member whose term is expiring shortly.

Agarwal’s defection from the Samajwadi Party came days after party chief Akhilesh Yadav said Jaya Bachchan would be its candidate for the only seat the party is likely to win in the biennial Rajya Sabha elections scheduled for March 23. There are 10 seats up for grabs from Uttar Pradesh this time. The party chose Bachchan over Agarwal to pacify the faction led by the party chief’s uncle Shivpal Singh Yadav, reports said. The faction was reportedly against nominating Agarwal as he had allegedly “colluded” with the BJP.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had on Monday said Agarwal’s comments about Jaya Bachchan were wrong.

Union ministers Smriti Irani and Harsimrat Kaur Badal have also condemned the statement since.

Irani said politicians should “stand as one...irrespective of our politics” when “a woman’s honour is challenged”. She said this in response to a tweet suggesting that the BJP could use the opportunity to target the Congress for a similar comment its spokesperson Sanjay Nirupam made against Irani in 2012. On a TV debate, Nirupam had mocked Irani for turning into an election analyst after “dancing on TV earlier”.

Badal said if elected representatives talk like this, “what is the difference between them and roadside Romeos”? “Even men dance and sing in movies, then why are such things said only for women?” she asked ANI.

Calling Bachchan an “achiever”, Congress leader Renuka Chowdhury took a dig at Agarwal for changing parties and asked whether this was the “trait of a man”.

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