BJP's Vinay Katiyar stayed defiant on his comment on "prettier campaigners than Priyanka Gandhi"
NEW DELHI: BJP lawmaker Vinay Katiyar waffled, deflected questions and downright refused to apologise for his comment on "prettier campaigners than Priyanka Gandhi" in his party before walking out of his interview to NDTV. "She is like my bhateeji (niece)," Mr Katiyar said, denying allegations that he had objectified her.
The senior leader has been widely criticized for his sexist response to a question on Priyanka Gandhi Vadra being named one of the Congress' star campaigners in Uttar Pradesh. "What difference will it make? We have more beautiful star campaigners...heroines, artistes...they are better," he told a reporter.
Confronting questions on NDTV, the BJP lawmaker insisted he had only responded to what the reporter had suggested.
"The reporter said Priyanka is beautiful, which is why I said it. I said if Congress will have the advantage of beautiful Priyanka, then BJP also has beautiful campaigners," he said, defiant.
In fact, the reporter is heard asking what impact Congress president Sonia Gandhi's daughter would make to the UP campaign. Mr Katiyar replied, "It was a previous question not shown here. Many questions were asked."
Persistent questioning failed to draw any expression of regret or even an acknowledgement of criticism from the veteran politician.
"Why is this issue being dragged out unnecessarily? There is nothing offensive about being called beautiful?"
Amid wide condemnation of Mr Katiyar's comments, Priyanka Vadra laughed off the BJP leader's comments. Her reaction was tweeted by one of her aides - "Ha ha ha! He's right...they do (have prettier campaigners)! 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."
The BJP has condemned its lawmaker's comment. "It is unacceptable," said Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu.