KR Ramesh Kumar made the comment during a discussion in the Karnataka assembly.
A Karnataka Congress leader's egregious "enjoy rape" comments have triggered outrage all the way to Delhi. Congress MLA KR Ramesh Kumar, who has apologised in the assembly and on Twitter, has embarrassed his party, which faced criticism in and outside parliament.
Union Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani raised it in parliament when she was interrupted by opposition protests over central minister Ajay Mishra, whose son is accused of running over farmers. When protesting MPs blocked her view with placards while she was speaking, Smriti Irani hit out at the Congress.
"If you truly believe in the cause of women, first stand here and denounce that legislator who said that if you are raped, as a woman in the country you should enjoy it. Those men who stand in this Well today, go back to your political organisation and first bring to justice such a man, then we will see who speaks for women and children in this country," she said.
Outside parliament, the Congress said it disapproved of the "highly objectionable and insensitive banter" in the assembly, and also included Karnataka Speaker Vishweshwar Hegde Kageri in its condemnation.
"Congress party disapproves of the exchange of highly objectionable and insensitive banter between Karnataka Assembly Speaker and senior Congress MLA in the House. Speaker as custodian and senior legislators are expected to be role models and should desist from such unacceptable behaviour," Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said.
The Congress MLA made the comment during a discussion on farmers in the Karnataka assembly yesterday. In a clamour among members to have their say, the Speaker wondered how he could run the session if every MLA was given time to speak.
"Whatever you decide - I will say yes. What I am thinking is that let us enjoy the situation. I can't control or regulate the system. My concern is about the business of the house, it has also to be covered," Mr Kageri said.
The Congress MLA responded: "There is a saying that when rape is inevitable, lie down and enjoy it. That is exactly the position which you are in." Shockingly, there was laughter in the state assembly in response. In a video, the Speaker is seen chuckling.
Hours later, facing a huge backlash, Mr Ramesh Kumar put out a statement on Twitter, controversially terming his comment an "off-the-cuff" one.
Amid protests by women MLAs in the Karnataka assembly this morning, the Congress leader offered a revised apology, saying: "If it hurts the sentiments of women, I've no problem apologising. I apologize from the bottom of my heart." The Speaker then said: "He has apologised, let's not drag it further."
In Delhi, on the sidelines of parliament's winter session, Samajwadi Party MP Jaya Bachchan called the comments shameful.
"What can I say? I am ashamed to even think that people of such a mindset can be in the assembly or parliament. I don't know what action will be taken. His party should take strong action. I am speechless. Does he not have women at home? This is the result of a basic flaw in thinking," said the actor-politician.
Congress's Rajya Sabha leader Mallikarjun Kharge told NDTV: "I strongly condemn this comment. He has been Speaker, and a minister. I didn't like it. He has apologized for his comment but such language is condemnable. We respect women. The Speaker was laughing at the comment, we don't approve of that either."