New Delhi: Lacerated for his offensive comments on Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, BJP leader Vinay Katiyar today made a bad situation considerably worse for himself by dragging in Union Minister Smriti Irani.
First, the lawmaker said his party had "prettier campaigners" than Priyanka Gandhi. Asked to explain what many called "objectification", Mr Katiyar refused to apologise. And then made another sexist gaffe, saying: "I think Smriti Irani is as beautiful and she is also campaigning."
The BJP leader has confronted widespread condemnation for the comment on Priyanka Gandhi, which was in response to a reporter's question on the 45-year-old featuring in the Congress party's list of campaigners in Uttar Pradesh.
"We have more beautiful star campaigners...heroines, artistes...they are better," Mr Katiyar, a Rajya Sabha member, said, provoking uproar. The BJP has condemned the comment, with Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu calling it "unacceptable".
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra laughed off the comment, saying: "Ha ha ha. He's right...they do! And if that's all he sees in my colleagues who are such strong, brave and beautiful women that have battled through all sorts of hardships to get where they are, then he makes me laugh even more."
Mr Katiyar told NDTV later, "I was responding to reporters. I said Priyanka is beautiful but others are beautiful too."
Asked whether he felt beauty draws more crowds, he said, "No no no. All this is nonsense, I think Smriti Irani is as beautiful and she is also campaigning."
On Ms Vadra's response, Mr Katiyar said, "I have huge respect for Priyanka Gandhi, she can say what she likes."