Politicians have no business talking about how people dress because ultimately their service is of policy making and ensuring rule of law, Union Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani said on Thursday, reacting to the controversial "ripped jeans" remarks by Uttarakhand Chief Minister Tirath Singh Rawat.
Rawat had drawn flak when he said that youngsters follow strange fashion trends due to a lack of values and consider themselves to be big shots after wearing jeans ripped at the knees. Rawat then went on to describe the attire of a woman who sat next to him on a flight. He described her as wearing boots, jeans ripped at the knees, bangles in her hands and with two children travelling with her. He also said she runs an NGO, goes out in society and has two children and wondered what values she would give them.
Speaking at the Seventh Edition of Times Network India Economic Conclave on 'Ladies Who Lead', Irani said there are certain things which are sacrosanct and one of them is a woman's right to choose the way she wants to live her life and engage with society as she deems fit.
"Irrespective, men, women, transgender, politicians have absolutely no business talking about how people dress, what they eat, what they do because ultimately our service is of policy making and ensuring rule of law. There have been faux pas made by many politicians -- men and women," Irani said.
"It is not as though these particular positions have been taken only by men and I think with growing urgency there is conversation across our country in all communities that there are certain things which are sacrosanct and one of them is woman's right to choose the way she wants to live her life and engage with society as she deems fit as long as you don't break the law I have absolutely no business telling you what to do," she added.
Responding to a question on why she is calling her party colleague Rawat's remarks a faux pas, she said, "No one in their enlightened mind will make that statement."
On the alleged absence of top Congress leaders in the West Bengal poll campaign, Irani said politically the Congress party knows that in West Bengal it has no gains to be made and its political leadership has accepted defeat even before the first vote is cast.
"I think it speaks volumes about their leadership that they did not stand in support of their own political workers and their own ecosystem within the state of West Bengal and this is possibly the first time that in Bengal elections the Congress by its very demeanour of its political leadership has accepted defeat even before the first vote is cast," Irani said.
Talking about women reservation, she said the BJP was the first party to make 33 per cent reservation within itself.
"People like Nirmala (Sitharaman) and me received our first organisational positions because of that. There have been many women who never had an opportunity to serve in higher offices. Today if you look at global indices which talk about political empowerment of women. Women serving in panchayats have not been recognised internationally," Irani said.
"In India, we have 1.3 million women serving in panchayats, no other nation in the world has such a big contingent of women politically serving doesn't get recognition. There is this potential that needs more and more opportunities because wherever women have been given equal opportunity to compete they have done well," she added.
On the #metoo movement in India involving former Union minister M J Akbar and journalist Priya Ramani, Irani said if there is a violation of law it is a woman's right to pursue justice. "There can be no debate on it," she said.