New Delhi: Janata Dal (United) leader Sharad Yadav today said in Parliament that he has the utmost respect for Education Minister Smriti Irani, to whom he had said two days ago, "I know what you are."
Today, the 67-year-old lawmaker was forced to express regret for his comment after Finance Minister Arun Jaitley brought up the issue in the Rajya Sabha or upper house. Mr Jaitley said Mr Yadav's comment two days ago "has created a very improper impression." He requested the JD(U) leader "to please clarify and put an end to this issue."
"I regret that this happened," said Mr Yadav, launching into a long-winded explanation. "I respect Smritiji so much that when there was a controversy over her educational degree, I was the first to defend her. I did not mean to say to her what was printed in newspapers."
He also said, "I respect Ms Irani so much that I never miss any debate related to her ministry," before other members hastily accepted his clarification and requested him to take his seat.
On Monday, Mr Yadav came under attack from Ms Irani over offensive comments that he had made about women's complexion in Parliament last week. "I appeal to the gentleman (Yadav) not to make comments on colour of skin of women in this manner," said Ms Irani.
That provoked Mr Yadav to declare, "I know what you are" as Ms Irani and other lawmakers objected strongly.
The issue had resurfaced in Parliament on Monday after Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said he wished to dissociate himself from the comments made last week by Mr Yadav, who mentioned the minister during a discussion on the Insurance Bill, deviating to talk about "our affinity for people with white skin."
He had brushed aside DMK lawmaker Kanimozhi's protest saying: "Your God is dark like Ravi Shankar Prasad, but your matrimonial ads insist on white-skinned brides," adding, "The bodies of women from the south are as good as they are beautiful."
The remarks led to outrage within and outside Parliament, but Mr Yadav had refused to apologise.