Samajwadi Party (SP) has a history of making anti-feminine remarks, with their various leaders making jibes about women and creating controversies. Even their party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav has not shied away from making such statements.
Adding to the controversies, Mulayam Singh Yadav in his election campaign in Muradabad in state of Uttar Pradesh sparked off another controversy by opposing death penalty to rape convicts. He said on the issue of rape, “Men do commit mistakes but giving death penalty is wrong, if we come to power, we will amend the law,” while condemning the decision of the Mumbai sessions court in Shakti Mills photojournalist gang rape case.
This highly insensitive statement comes at a time when security of women is a major issue and around 49% of the women electorate from all over the country is casting their ballots to choose the government.
Going by the history, sexist jibes by Yadav and his party has not been new; Samajwadi Party has been the main party to oppose the introduction of Women’s Reservation Bill and also the anti-rape law.
In 2010, Mulayam speaking against the Women’s reservation made controversial statements that if the bill is passed, “Parliament will be filled with women who will invite catcalls and whistle.”
He had even picked up a row with his remark in 2012 in Barabanki,Uttar Pradesh where he said that “rural women will not benefit from the bill because they are not as attractive as those from the affluent class.”
Taking a cue from the party chief, other SP leaders too have gone in the same direction while making remarks against women. SP Member of Parliament Ram Gopal Yadav triggered an unsavoury row in 2013 in a gathering at Etawah where he said, “Bollywood heroines are more vulgar than Mumbai’s bar dancers.”
Last year after the Tehelka scandal, Samajwadi Party leader Naresh Agarwal made an insensitive sexist remark saying that the “companies are now scared to hire women.”
Recently actor turned politician Kamaal Rashid Khan’s ticket from North-West Mumbai was cancelled as he was accused of making derogatory remarks against a woman on micro-blogging site Twitter.
At this time when the women’s representation is increasing in main-stream politics Samajwadi Party is still the one with lesser number of candidates in terms of women representation and remarks like this will not draw much of a response from women electorates. One interesting point is that the female face of the party is herself the daughter-in-law of the party chief and wife of Uttar Pradesh’s chief minister.
Uzair Hasan Rizvi is a Journalism student at Jamia Millia Islamia. He tweets @rizviuzair