Madhya Pradesh bypolls: Kamal Nath refers to BJP nominee as ‘item’, BJP complains to EC

Written by Iram Siddique
| Bhopal |

October 19, 2020 1:28:16 am

Kamal Nath at a rally in Gwalior district. (PTI)

Amid the campaigning for the bypolls to 28 Assembly seats in Madhya Pradesh, state Congress chief Kamal Nath on Sunday triggered a furore by referring to BJP leader Imarti Devi as an “item”.

The ruling BJP has lodged a complaint with the Election Commission over Nath’s remark, saying that it insulted the woman leader. The Congress has, meanwhile, said Nath did not name the BJP leader.

Addressing a gathering in Dabra in support of Congress candidate Suresh Raje, the former CM said Raje is a simple man who will carry out development work “unlike her…”.

Ye unke jaise nahi hai… kya hai uska naam” (He is not like her, what is her name),” Nath asked the crowd which responded by saying BJP candidate Imarti Devi’s name. “You know her better than I do, you people should have warned me beforehand… ye kya item hai… kya item hai,” said Nath.

“Suresh Raje and I will work together for the development of Gwalior-Chambal region, we will work for the youth of this region and chalk out a new policy for the farmers,” he said.

Imarti Devi, state cabinet minister for Women and Child Development, was one of the 22 MLAs who resigned in March, bringing down the Kamal Nath-led government in Madhya Pradesh. She subsequently joined the BJP and is now a party candidate for the bypoll in Dabra, a seat reserved for SC candidates.

Soon after Nath made the remark, the BJP approached the Election Commission, calling the remark an insult to women as well as the SC community.

Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan called Nath’s comment on Imarti Devi an insult of a daughter and sister of the Gwalior-Chambal region.

Speaking at a gathering at Gwalior region, he said, “Imarti Devi has her roots in Gwalior and Chambal and belongs to a Scheduled caste. She has worked hard and risen from being a labourer to an MLA and then a minister. Who gave you the right to insult a person coming from a humble background?” Out of the 28 seats going to bypolls, 16 are in the Gwalior-Chambal region.

Congress spokesperson Narendra Saluja claimed that Nath has not taken Imarti Devi’s name in any of the speeches he made. “He said ‘kya item hai ye’ and did not take Imarti Devi’s name. It is the BJP who is adding Imarti Devi’s name and insulting her,” he said.

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