Actor-turned-politician Prakash Raj on Thursday spoke out in defence of Congress President Rahul Gandhi, who was criticised for making a sexist comment against Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, ANI reported. Raj said the Congress leader is not against women.

On Wednesday, Gandhi had 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 actor cited Gandhi’s appointment of transgender rights activist Apsara Reddy chief of its women’s wing to support his statement. “He [Gandhi] has also appointed a transgender representative in important position,” Raj said. “Why do you want to look at his statement in only one way? Is it not true that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has not answered [Rafale questions] and has not been in Parliament?”

The National Commission for Women on Thursday issued a notice to Gandhi seeking an explanation for his remarks against Sitharaman.

On January 5, Raj had announced that he will contest the upcoming Lok Sabha elections from the Bengaluru Central constituency. He had declared he would contest the polls as an independent candidate. Raj has been a vocal critic of the Narendra Modi government for several months.

Earlier on Thursday, Raj said he had met and discussed matters related to governance in Bengaluru with Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. “[I] thanked him and the Aam Aadmi Party for the support in my political journey,” Raj tweeted.