- Jitan Ram Manjhi cited incongruous examples to defend Azam Khan's remarks
- Azam Khan's remark is being misinterpreted: Mr Manjhi
- Azam Khan's remarks against Lok Sabha deputy speaker evoked outrage
Bihar leader Jitan Ram Manjhi on Saturday came to the defence of Samajwadi party leader Azam Khan whose sexist remarks in parliament against Lok Sabha deputy speaker Rama Devi evoked outrage. Azam Khan's remark, he said, is being misinterpreted. "So he should apologize but not resign," said Jitan Ram Manjhi, who earlier occupied the office of the Bihar Chief Minister.
He even cited some incongruous examples to defend Azam Khan's remarks. "When brother, sister meet they kiss, is it equal to sex? Mother kisses son, son kisses mother, is it sex?" said Jitan Ram Manjhi, who after quitting Nitish Kumar's Janata Dal United, has been leading his own political party, the Hindustan Awam Morcha.
The Samajwadi Party lawmaker's sexist remarks - made during Thursday's debate on a bill to ban Triple Talaq - were so offensive that they were immediately expunged from the house records amid shouts of "shame".
The BJP's Sushma Swaraj said the lawmaker, who made headlines earlier too with sexist comments, crossed "all limits of decency" and suffered from "mental perversion".
"This is an abominable act, I appeal to you for exemplary action," Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had told Speaker Om Prakash Birla.
Azam Khan has not apologised, indicating that his words have been misinterpreted. "Sister, I have had a long political career, it is not possible for me to say anything bad. If there is a single unparliamentary word in what I said, then I declare my resignation from parliament," he said.
NDTV has learnt that Azam Khan will be asked to furnish an unconditional apology in parliament on Monday, failing which, tougher action could be taken.
Rama Devi has said she would "never forgive" Azam Khan, even if he apologises for his remarks. Azam Khan, she said, had insulted the chair twice - once by making the comment and second by not apologising instantly.
"Every man has a mother, sister, daughter and wife. Azam Khan's remark is going to hurt not only women but also the dignity of men," she said.
The only leader to come to Azam Khan's defence so far is Akhilesh Yadav, his party boss. The Samajwadi chief was seen grinning when Azam Khan made the outrageous comment and later said there was nothing objectionable in what he said.