The party that won’t let women party

Rupa Gulab

I’ve been wondering all along why the BJP repeatedly disrupts proceedings in Parliament and forces adjournments. At first I thought it was because they’re plain lazy, or perhaps they’re just being spiteful to the nation because the majority of voters hadn’t thought them worthy enough to be in a position of power.  But now, thanks to a thought-provoking speech by RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, I have seen the light. I’m beginning to believe that they want adjournments only so their female party members can rush home and bathe their husbands’ feet in milk, cook, sweep, swab, dust, darn, and knit saffron monkey caps for them. You see, their Great  Regressive Leader believes, among other foolish things, that a woman’s place is in the home — that this is part of the marriage contract.  I was amazed that not one of the women in the BJP objected to his ridiculous statement — au contraire, they actually rushed to defend him like squawking mother hens. 

While politicians, across party lines, have made and continue to make disparaging remarks about women in public, not surprisingly, most of them belong to the BJP.  Yes, I’ve done a count since the horrific Delhi bus gangrape that shocked the nation in December 2012. The party can now be officially called Bigoted Janata Party or Bharatiya Janata Patriarchs — or perhaps even Bigoted Janata Patriarchs. In the recent past, we’ve heard several male party members say ludicrous things in public. The oddest was a remark by Chhattisgarh home minister Nanki Ram Kanwar who seriously believes that Indian women are being molested and raped because the planetary configurations don’t favour them. And the most spine-chilling statement of all was made by Madhya Pradesh minister Kailash Vijayvargiya who warned that if women cross the Laxman rekha they deserve to be punished (by implication, rape is a good enough punishment). Hello, we’re not characters in mythology, we’re real people. I can bet that if the Ramayana  had been written in our times, Sita wouldn’t ask Mother Earth to swallow her. She’d hire a good lawyer and fight back. Today she has the fundamental right to equality — even if her husband doesn’t back her, the Indian Constitution will!

Now suppose we leave all the ugly Indian men from the BJP out of the argument and randomly pick three female party members. Let’s see how they fare on the issue of gender sensitivity and women’s empowerment.

We naturally go on to Sushma Swaraj’s Mini-Me, Smriti Z. Irani, who sports an identical gigantic bindi and the exact same harsh peacock screech. She’s a perfect fit for the BJP because of her long association with caveman-era saas-bahu serials. Though she vociferously (and ferociously) states that she’s all for women’s rights, she equally vociferously (and ferociously) defended Bhagwat’s statement

I’ll start with senior BJP leader Sushma Swaraj — she has a lot to answer for.  A rape victim, according to her, is a zinda lash (living corpse).  The unsaid part is, she should call upon Mother Earth to swallow her.

We naturally go on to Swaraj’s Mini-Me, Smriti Z. Irani, who sports an identical gigantic bindi and the exact same harsh peacock screech. She’s a perfect fit for the BJP because of her long association with caveman-era saas-bahu serials. Though she vociferously (and ferociously) states that she’s all for women’s rights, she equally vociferously (and ferociously) defended Bhagwat’s statement. Oh, well, not much hope from her in that case. Had Shakespeare been around today, he may have clucked and sorrowfully remarked that her words amount to nothing more than “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing”. Tsk, tsk.

Then there’s this extremely peculiar woman called Shaina NC who claims to be a fashion designer. Going by her hopelessly regressive comments on TV news channels, I wouldn’t recommend her design studio to any of my friends. I’m guessing that all they’d find on her clothes racks would be garments for the Ram Lila and mythological TV serials. Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s the person who designs that bizarre headgear senior BJP leaders (male only, of course) sport at conventions.

So now I’m wondering how many 21st century women who have heard or read about the anti-women remarks over the past few months will vote for the BJP in 2014. I just hope that when the time comes to press a button on the electronic voting machines, they remember. Or else, Indian women may well be forced to dress like characters in Amar Chitra Katha comics. And, of course, we will also have to keep in mind what happened to Sita when she crossed the Laxman rekha. Anything evil that happens to us will be our fault, see? 

This story is from the print issue of Hardnews: FEBRUARY 2013