Minister apologises for comparing roads to Hema Malini's cheeks

Maharashtra Water Supply and Sanitation Minister Gulabrao Patil has apologised for his comments comparing roads in his constituency to actress Hema Malini's cheeks.

The remarks triggered widespread condemnation from political parties like the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and drew the state women's commission's ire.

"My intention was to highlight the good roads in my constituency. However, my statement was misunderstood. If my statement has hurt anyone, I would like to apologise," the Shiv Sena minister said in a video message on Monday.

Addressing an election rally at Bodwad Nagar panchayat in Jalgaon district on Sunday, Mr Patil, taunting his political adversary, NCP leader Eknath Khadse, said: "Those who have served as MLA for 30 years should visit my Dharangaon constituency. They should see first hand the development that I have carried out in my constituency. If you don't find the roads in Dharangaon like the cheeks of Hema Malini, then I will resign."

The state BJP said it would file a police complaint against the minister for making "insulting and undignified" remarks.

BJP leader Pravin Darekar, who is the opposition leader in the state legislative council, said that an offence should be registered against Mr Patil for denigrating women.

The Maharashtra women's commission said the minister should apologise or face legal action.

The women's commission chairperson Rupali Chakankar, who is also the state NCP women's wing chief, said: "As a people's representative, Patil's statement is highly deplorable and demeaning of women. If he does not apologise, we will have to take legal action against him."

BJP's women's wing general secretary Uma Khapre told The Indian Express that Mr Patil had no reason to drag Hema Malini's name into the discussion.

Mr Khadse, meanwhile, responded to Patil's comments saying if people had elected him for 30 years, it meant he had worked for them.

While the NCP said it considered the chapter closed with the minister's apology, the BJP said it is still contemplating legal action against Mr Patil.

The minister's comments came close on the heels of senior Congress leader and former Speaker of the Karnataka Assembly K.R. Ramesh Kumar's comment on rape a week earlier.

While speaking in the Karnataka Assembly, he told the Speaker: "When rape is unavoidable, one should enjoy it." The sexist comment, which was made during a discussion about farm laws, invited laughs from others present.

Three weeks ago, another Congress leader, Rajasthan Minister Rajendra Singh Gudha, said the roads in his constituency were like actress Katrina Kaif's cheeks.

His party colleague, former Madhya Pradesh minister P.C. Sharma had made a similar remark in 2019.

But it was former Bihar Chief Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav who had first made the distasteful analogy famous in 2005 when he said he would make the roads in Bihar "as smooth as Hema Malini's cheeks".

Indo-Asian News Service

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