- Arvind Kejriwal had urged women to come out in large numbers and vote
- Smriti Irani objected to Mr Kejriwal's "discuss with men" advice
- Around 1.47 crore people eligible to vote in Delhi assembly election
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Saturday hit back at Union Minister Smriti Irani, who accused him of misogyny over a tweet in which he urged women to come out in large numbers for the assembly election and discuss with men who should get the vote.
"Definitely go and vote. A special appeal to all women, just as you take up the responsibility of the home, the responsibility of the nation and Delhi is with you. All of you women must go to vote and take the men in your families along with you. Discuss with men who it is right to vote for," Mr Kejriwal tweeted in Hindi minutes before 8 am when the polling began.
It was the "discuss with men" advice that Ms Irani, the Minister of Women and Child Development, objected to. While supporters of Mr Kejriwal said that Chief Minister was appealing women to encourage men to vote for his party, the BJP leader alleged that the tweet had a misogynistic slant.
"Do you not consider women capable enough to decide for themselves who to vote for?" Ms Irani said in Hindi with a hashtag "#AntiWomenKejriwal".
Responding to the attack, Mr Kejriwal tweeted: "Smriti ji, women of Delhi have decided who to vote for. And across Delhi, women have decided who their family will vote for. After all, they have to run the house."
Speaking to NDTV, the AAP chief clarified his first tweet, saying that he meant women should tell men who to vote for. "Women know how difficult it is to run a house. If electricity rates and prices go up, who will it hurt? That's why I said they should tell the men who to vote for," Mr Kejriwal said.
Smriti Irani countered the tweet by saying: "The advice that you are giving to women, how many men did you tweet it to?"
Around 1.47 crore people in the national capital have the choice on Saturday to elect a new government in what appears to be a close contest between a Mr Kejriwal's ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the BJP led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The election comes at a time when the country and Delhi have been rocked by weeks-long protests against the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), perceived as discriminatory towards Muslims.
The BJP has sought to mobilise popular sentiment against the protests, at the heart of which is an indefinite sit-in led by women in South East Delhi's Shaheen Bagh, banking on its right-wing support base.
For the AAP, the outcome of the election hinges on the turnout of women. In the 2015 polls, in the top 20 constituencies in Delhi with the highest turnout of women, the AAP won much more decisively than in the seats which had the lowest turnout of women.
The surge had helped the AAP scoop up an astonishing 67 of 70 seats in 2015 while the BJP won just three. Since then, the AAP has conceded one seat to the BJP in a by-poll and lost six lawmakers who joined other parties.
Votes for the Delhi assembly election will be counted on Tuesday.