Bharatiya Janata Party’s West Bengal unit President Dilip Ghosh on Thursday reacted to the controversy around his comment about how Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee should wear bermuda shorts to show her injured leg, saying that she is expected “to act appropriately”, reported ANI. This came a day after his remark stirred a controversy.

Banerjee was injured on March 10 in Nandigram district, in what she alleged was a conspiracy against her. The Election Commission, however, concluded that the chief minister had suffered injuries following an accident due to a security lapse.

After the chief minister’s treatment, she was discharged on March 12. A few days later, Banerjee resumed her campaigning for the West Bengal Assembly elections, scheduled between March 27 and April 29. Banerjee has been addressing rallies on a wheelchair since, and has spoken about her injuries, asserting that this would not stop her from campaigning.

However, the BJP has mocked the Trinamool Congress chief, and has been claiming that photos of wheelchair-bound Banerjee with her leg covered in plaster was part of a “well-scripted drama”.

In a widely shared video on social media, Ghosh claimed on Monday that after the cast was taken off and her foot was bandaged, Banerjee was now showing off her leg to everyone. The video was reportedly from an election meeting he addressed in Purulia district.

This drew widespread condemnation and anger from politicians, who called him out for his misogynistic remarks. The Trinamool Congress wrote on Twitter that what the BJP leader had said was “vulgar” and distasteful.

On Thursday, Ghosh attempted to defend his remark, saying that he made them only because the chief minister was expected to act in a way that suited West Bengal’s culture. “She’s our chief minister, we expect her to act appropriately, befitting Bengal’s culture,” Ghosh said. “A woman showing her legs in saree is inappropriate. People are objecting. I found it objectionable so I spoke.”

Ghosh also said that his remarks were “not an insult of women”, and were made in protest against Banerjee’s attempt to tarnish West Bengal’s culture. “In West Bengal, our mothers and sisters wear saree,” he told News18 in Kharagpur. “Saree is a symbol of decency. But it is not proper that someone deliberately shows her foot – again and again in public meetings – while wearing a saree. Even women are not liking this. The CM speaks a lot about Bengali culture...We do not expect such behaviour from the CM.”

However, the BJP leader said that he did not need to clarify his comments. “There is no controversy; no clarification needed,” he said, according to News18. “I have said it in a public meeting.”

Ghosh said Banerjee was being dramatic in an attempt to gain sympathy ahead of the polls, but she had to provide an account for the last 10 years of her term. He claimed that women voters had been “tortured and insulted” in the state and had grown “sick of Banerjee”. The politician said his party has made big promises to the women in the state and that they will get from the BJP what they were denied “for 73 years”.

‘Brazen disrespect, misogyny’: TMC leaders criticise Ghosh

Trinamool Congress leaders on Thursday criticised the West Bengal BJP chief for his comments against Banerjee.

“If the only sitting female CM [chief minister] in the country can be disrespected so brazenly, am afraid to imagine what they can say about our daughters!” Kolkata Mayor Firhad Hakim tweeted.

Former BJP leader Yashwant Sinha, who joined the Trinamool Congress on March 13, said such comments would not have been allowed under Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s leadership. “But now, even the Prime Minister behaves in such a way when he comes to the state, just to win seats,” he said. “Does it behove the PM to mock the only sitting female CM in the country?”

Trinamool Congress MP Nusrat Jahan said “misogyny and the need to control women” was so deeply embedded in the minds of BJP leaders that it was now a matter of national concern.

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Mamata Banerjee should wear bermuda shorts to show injured leg, says Bengal BJP chief; sparks row