Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge and Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman got into war of words on the inaugural session in the new Parliament building over the Congress leader's "weak women" comment.
“Largely, ladies from backward and scheduled castes are not that literate. Their literacy rate is low, because of which all political parties have a habit of nominating weak women,” Kharge, the Leader of Opposition in the Upper House said after Union Law Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal introduced the new Women's Reservation Bill. “They (parties) won’t choose those who’re educated and can fight. I know how backwards and scheduled caste people are chosen by political parties.”
Kharge's comments drew sharp criticism, prompting Sitharaman to respond. “We respect the leader of the Opposition but to make a sweeping statement that all parties choose women who are not effective is absolutely unacceptable. We all have been empowered by our party, by our Prime Minister. Rashtrapati Droupadi Murmu ji is an empowered woman,” she said. “In spite of that they can’t have women who are empowered. I object to him making a sweeping generalisation of all parties.”
A long contentious issue in Indian politics, the Women's Reservation Bill allows 33 per cent quota for women in Lok Sabha and state assemblies. It has been hailed by supporters.