A first information report was filed on Monday against Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan for purportedly saying that the colour of the underwear of a Bharatiya Janata Party leader is khaki, reported ANI. Some reports claimed that he was referring to BJP’s Rampur candidate Jaya Prada. Workers of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the ideologue of the BJP, are often seen in khaki shorts.

During a poll campaign on Sunday, Khan, who is contesting from Rampur in Uttar Pradesh reportedly said, “Inke ke neeche ka underwear khaki rang ka hai”. Jaya Prada is also contesting from Rampur.

“Many allegations were made against me by the current BJP candidate,” Khan is heard saying. “I had to swear by my dead mother that they are false. I am not a coward. If I said it, I would have accepted it in front of you. I want to ask you, should one stoop so low in politics? This person who has sucked the blood of Rampur for 10 years – I had led that person to Rampur by the finger. I familiarised the person with the streets of Rampur. I didn’t let anyone touch the person or even use filthy language. You made the person your representative for 10 years. But the difference between us, O people of Rampur, O people of Shahbad, O people of India, is that you took 17 years to recognise the person, and I realised in just 17 days that the underwear the person wears is khaki.”

Khan on Monday claimed his comments were about a man and added that he will not contest the elections if anyone can prove that he named the actor-turned-politician. “I will not contest the polls if proven guilty,” he said, according to ANI. “I haven’t named or insulted anyone and I know what I should say. I was a nine-time MLA from Rampur and have been a minister. I know what to say.”

The National Commission for Women took note of the veteran Samajwadi Party leader’s comments. NCW Chairperson Rekha Sharma said Khan’s remark was “extremely disgraceful”. The women’s panel sent a show-cause notice to Khan on Monday. Sharma said she will also request the Election Commission to bar him from contesting the elections. Sharma took note of the remark after a Twitter user uploaded a video of the Samajwadi Party leader’s purported jibe.

Late on Monday, the Election Commission barred Khan from campaigning for 72 hours.

‘If he wins, what will happen to women?’

Jaya Prada said Khan should not be allowed to contest. “Because if this man wins, what will happen to democracy?” she asked. “There’ll be no place for women in society. Where will we go? Should I die, then you’ll be satisfied? You think that I’ll get scared and leave Rampur? But I won’t leave.” The actor-turned politician added that Khan has made similar comments against her earlier also.

The BJP’s in charge of Rampur seat Chandra Mohan also demanded that the Election Commission take cognisance of Khan’s “disgraceful and offensive” comments. “The level of politics cannot fall any further,” he said, according to NDTV. “This is the real face of Azam Khan and his so-called socialist party, wherein women are put down in this manner. But Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati should also comment on such disgusting comments being made against Jaya Prada.”

Union minister Sushma Swaraj drew an analogy from Mahabharata when Draupadi was being disrobed. She asked Mulayam Singh Yadav not to make the mistake of staying silent just like Pitamah Bhishma.

Former Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit also commented on the matter, saying Khan should be “ashamed” of his statement and should take back his remark, according to News18. She added that he should apologise to women.

BJP’s ally Janata Dal United also criticised the alleged comments. “This type of language is unacceptable...using such words for women is shameful, we condemn this statement. Azam Khan should apologise,” said JD(U) leader Pawan Verma, according to NDTV.

Rampur will vote on April 23 during the third phase of the elections. Jaya Prada had won from Rampur on a Samajwadi Party ticket in the 2004 and 2009 Lok Sabha elections.