Uttar Pradesh assembly speaker Hriday Narayan Dixit was forced to issue an explanation on Monday (September 20) after his comment, purportedly comparing Mahatma Gandhi and actor Rakhi Sawant, sparked a debate online.
A few days back, speaking at an event in Unnao, Dixit had said, “Gandhi ji kapde kam pehante the, dhoti pehente the… Gandhi ji ko Bapu kaha gaya. Ab agar kapde utarne se koi mahaan ho jata hai toh Rakhi Sawant Mahatma Gandhi se badi ban jati… (Gandhi ji used to wear few clothes, he used to wear a dhoti… He was called Bapu. If people could become great just by shedding their clothes, then Rakhi Sawant would have been a taller personality than Gandhi).”
A video clip, highlighting only this particular portion of Dixit’s speech went viral.
Former UP chief minister and Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav was among many who criticised Dixit for his analogy. Yadav tweeted the clip of Dixit’s speech with the hashtag “jhooth_ka_phool (flower of lies)”, ostensible invoking the BJP’s party symbol.
SP MLC Sunil Sajan said the speaker’s comment is “an insult to every girl of the country”. Sajan sought “immediate apology” from Dixit.
The Congress too took a dig at Dixit, calling the speaker’s statement an insult of the Mahatma and women. UP Congress spokesperson Anshu Awasthi said the BJP and the RSS leaders have a “habit of disrespecting Mahatma Gandhi”.
मैंने इसी बिंदु से बात आगे बढ़ाते हुए कहा कि कुछ पुस्तकों और लेखों के लिखने से ही कोई प्रबुद्ध नहीं हो जाता। महात्मा गांधी कम कपड़े पहनते थे। देश ने उन्हें 'बापू' कहा। लेकिन इसका अर्थ यह नहीं राखी सावंत भी गांधी जी हो जाएंगी।
— Hriday Narayan Dixit (@Speaker_UPLA) September 19, 2021
Dixit is an MLA for Unnao’s Bhagwant Nagar seat. He made the remark during BJP’s “Prabuddha Jann” event, organised in those seats which are due for by-elections next year.
Dixit said on Monday that he had been quoted out of context. He said the video clip, which has since gone viral, showed a portion of his speech.
The UP assembly speaker said the hosts at the event had introduced him as a “prabuddha (intellectual) writer, “but I didn’t agree with the statement”. “By writing some books and articles, one doesn’t become an intellectual. By the same logic, I said Mahatma Gandhi used to wear few clothes. He is regarded by the nation as Bapu. That doesn’t mean Rakhi Sawant will become Gandhi,” Dixit said.