The National Commission for Women on Thursday issued a notice to Congress President Rahul Gandhi seeking an explanation for his remarks against Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

Gandhi on Wednesday said Prime Minister Narendra Modi “got a woman to defend him” on the Rafale deal debate in Parliament. “The watchman with a 56-inch chest [a reference to Modi] ran away and told a woman, Sitharaman ji, defend me,” Gandhi had said at a rally in Jaipur. “For two and a half hours, the woman could not defend him. I had asked a straight question – answer yes or no – but she could not answer.”

The National Commission for Women, in its notice to Gandhi, said the remarks were “extremely misogynistic, offensive, unethical and shows extreme disrespect towards the dignity and honour of women in general”, reported The Indian Express. The commission condemned the remarks, terming it “irresponsible and disparaging views of persons holding responsible positions”.

NCW chairperson Rekha Sharma told ANI that Gandhi’s comments were “pathetic, sexist and misogynistic”. “He has to explain what he means when he is trying to talk low of women,” she said. Sharma had tweeted on Wednesday asking if Gandhi considered women to be weak. “The irony – calling an accomplished defence minister of the largest democracy a weak person.”

Modi had rebuked the Congress leader for his “insult to the women in the country”, while Bharatiya Janata Party President Amit Shah demanded that Gandhi apologise for his sexist remark. Later on Wednesday, Gandhi tweeted: “With all due respect Modi Ji, in our culture respect for women begins at home.” He then brought up the Rafale deal again.