President Pranab Mukherjee's son and Congress MP from West Bengal's Jangipur Abhijit Mukherjee has created a controversy by calling the anti-rape protesters at India Gate in Delhi as "dented and painted" women. The Jangipur MP was forced to retract his comments but not before he raked more controversy by trying to justify his statement.
Abhijit Mukherjee first said that it has become fashionable to attend protest demonstrations while speaking at an event in West Bengal, but also added that the women and girls protesting against the brutal gangrape of a 23-year-old girl were not in touch with ground realities and many of them could not be students because they used make up.
However, after CNN-IBN Deputy Editor Sagarika Ghose grilled Mukherjee, he was forced to apologise and retract his statement. Asking Sagarika not to drag the President into the controversy, Mukherjee said he was responsible for his action and comments.
Below is edited transcript of the interview:
Sagarika Ghose: Mr Mukherjee your sister has come out and said that your father, the President, will be embarrassed by what you said about dented and painted women. Will you now issue a full public apology and retract your statement?
Abhijit Mukherjee: Since it has created a lot of outage and what I felt that it has hurt sentiments of women from students to working class. They felt hurt. I sincerely apologise to them. I withdraw all statements and words which has created such uproar. I withdraw and apologise those have been hurt. I am not explaining anymore. Conversation in between has been taken anyway since it has created controversy I withdraw.
Sagarika Ghose: Is an apology enough Mr Mukherjee, is this kind of insulting language? Is it enough? Have you not brought discredit to the high office of the president? Do you think your father will be happy with what you said! Won't he be embarrassed
Abhijit Mukherjee: But I am not working in President office, I am an individual. I don't think it's good to drag President's office. What I heard from others he has regretted and since I have withdrawn so because of my actions he was hurt, my sister was hurt this apology is to them also.
Sagarika Ghose: Don't you think he will deeply embarrassed? Don't you think you have done disservice to Pranab Mukherjee?
Abhijit Mukherjee: I have already replied, I apologised to my father for this controversy. Yes I am his son but because of me one shouldn't drag his name.
Sagarika Ghose: Do you want your father to apologise?
Abhijit Mukherjee: I am responsible for my action not my father, once I have apologised if someone propagates it once more- what's next and my party is also not responsible. There are many women who are protesting against what you have to said- women who have been hurt, lathicharged what do you want to say those women who you have called dented and painted, I have apologised.
Sagarika Ghose: Are you willing to introspect about your own mindset
Abhijit Mukherjee: I know what has been told, that's why I have withdrawn! That's the first step towards introspection. But others also shouldn't hurt us why ask my father to apologise. Don't ask the same question.
Sagarika Ghose: Do you think women should change their dress code to stop crimes against women?
Abhijit Mukherjee: It is prerogative of women to dress the way they want go out when they want it's prerogative of the government to ensure safety.
Sagarika Ghose: You have done a U-turn - do you think all men should change their attitude?
Abhijit Mukherjee: I can control myself not others, intention was not to hurt others, sentences have been picked up. Since sentiments have been hurt, I have withdrawn, you can call it u-turn.
Sagarika Ghose: Are you willing to resign, you hold public office?
Abhijit Mukherjee: If my party high command demands I will do that.
Sagarika Ghose: If party proceeds to act against you, are you are willing to offer your resignation?
Abhijit Mukherjee: Whatever they want I will do, being a law abiding citizen, loyal soldier of party if party think I should resign I will do it.