An argument delivered without personal slights may be far more effective when making a point, but Indian political leaders do not seem to be convinced. Over the last few years, there have been multiple incidents that have seen politicians aim misogynistic and at times profane comments at their opponents. And the latest entrant to this list is Uttarakhand BJP chief Bansidhar Bhagat who on Tuesday shocked many by calling the leader of Opposition "budhiya".
Responding to Congress leader Indira Hridayesh's recent claim that BJP MLAs were in touch with the Opposition, Bhagat hit back in no uncertain terms. "Arre budhiya, tujhse kyun sampark karenge?" he asked. His remark loosely translates to mean: "Why will they contact you, old lady?"
Indira Hridayesh for her part is not ignoring the slight. In remarks quoted by news agency ANI she said that she had heard Bhagat's "hurtful" remarks.
"As the president of the BJP's state unit, he is a representative of the party itself. I am deeply hurt and want the matter to be taken cognisance of, and an apology issued," she said.
Last week the Leader of Opposition had reportedly said that there were BJP MLAs willing to change sides, refusing to divulge names at the time. The issue, she had said, would be discussed with the party's national leadership before a decision was taken. The claim has also been echoed by former Chief Minister Harish Rawat.
Following the controversial remark, Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat had taken to Twitter issuing a public apology to Hridayesh. Stating that he was "saddened" by the incident he had also assured that he would talk to her personally and issue a fresh apology.
The social media backlash has been swift. Many contend that Bhagat had been out of line, marveling at his unfortunate choice of words. While some criticised the "petty" and "bitter" mode of political campaign, others have called for his removal from the BJP.
Interestingly there are also a few tweets that seem to be defending the comment. Some have repeatedly informed fellow netizens that these are not insulting words, even as others contend that the Opposition has no grounds to protest as their leaders have made far more problematic remarks.