BJP women MPs cry foul over Rahul’s ‘flying kiss’, Congress sees diversionary tactic

Around 20 BJP MPs led by MoS Shobha Karandlaje complained to Speaker and demanded action against the reinstated Wayanad MP.

ByMahesh M Goudar

Published Aug 09, 2023 | 8:57 PM Updated Aug 09, 2023 | 8:57 PM

Indian Parliament Rahul Gandhi Smriti Irani Flying Kiss

Senior Congress leader and Wayanad MP Rahul Gandhi has been harping on opening the shop of love in hate’s marketplace. On Wednesday, a group of around 20 women BJP MPs complained to Lok Sabha Speaker Om Prakash Birla that the Opposition leader blew a kiss at Union Minister Smriti Irani in the House.

The dramatic incident occurred while the Lok Sabha was debating a no-trust motion discussing the unabated violence in Manipur. Gandhi was about to leave for Rajasthan after his speech when the Treasury benches booed at him. He responded with a flying kiss.

The seemingly innocuous gesture quickly escalated into a political controversy that sidelined the Manipur violence over which the no-confidence motion was moved.

Union Minister for Women and Child Development Irani expressed outrage over the flying kiss, called Gandhi a misogynist, and said the House had never witnessed such an “indecent act”.

Later, around 20 BJP women parliamentarians led by Union Minister of State for Agriculture Shobha Karandlaje complained to the Speaker and demanded stringent action against the Wayanad MP. The leader from Karnataka alleged that Gandhi blew a kiss at Irani and other women MPs.

Congress rallies in support

The Congress MPs rallied in support of Gandhi, saying the BJP was trying to divert attention from his speech by raising a hue and cry over a “genuine gesture”. Earlier, Gandhi tore into the government over the continuing violence in Manipur.

Even as the controversy raged over the air kiss, several netizens and fact-checkers posted the video of the said incident. The video showed Gandhi throwing the kiss at the House and not in the direction of any particular individual.

Gandhi, who disqualified after a Gujarat court sentenced him to two years imprisonment, was reinstated as a Lok Sabha member on Monday, 7 August.

Also read: Rahul Gandhi reinstated as member of the Lok Sabha

 

Inappropriate behaviour: Karandlaje

While raising the issue in the House, Irani did not name anyone. “The person who spoke before me made an indecent gesture. It is only a misogynist who can blow a flying kiss to Parliament which seats female parliamentarians,” she said.

“I have never witnessed such an indecent act in the House ever before. The entire country has seen the culture of the (Gandhi) family,” the actor-turned-politician fumed.

“When the House of the people, where laws are made to protect the dignity of women, stands witness to a man’s misogyny, my question is should he not be brought to task,” she asked, before naming the family.

“We have heard that such indecent gestures are made on roads. We did not know misogyny is one of the traits of the Gandhi family,” she said.

Karandlaje said he left after throwing the kiss. “After blowing a flying kiss towards Smriti Irani and all the other women members, he went away. This is a inappropriate, indecent behaviour. Senior members told us that such an incident had never happened in the history of Parliament. So, we filed a complaint with the Speaker, urging him to take the CCTV footage and initiate action against the MP,” she said.

BJP’s Mathura MP Hema Malini, who was named as one of the signatories in the complaint, told India Today that she did not see Gandhi blowing a kiss, “but there were some words that were not correct”.

Related: You have murdered India in Manipur, you are traitors,says Rahul

Congress hits back 

Defending Gandhi, the Congress asserted that he had never disrespected women. The party accused the BJP of trying to divert attention away from a substantive debate on the violence in Manipur.

Manickam Tagore dismissed Irani’s charge, saying it was “Rahul-phobia”. The BJP was using the incident to avoid a genuine discussion on Manipur, he said.

Other Congress members echoed the same sentiment, emphasising that Gandhi intended to spread the message of love and affection, rather than malice.

“Throughout the Bharat Jodo Yatra — those who joined it and watched it — were all giving it (flying kiss) as a symbol of love and affection,” Congress general secretary (organisation) KC Venugopal said.

“But those who are thinking with something in their mind may misunderstand the gesture. It is their problem, not Rahul Gandhi’s problem. Rahul Gandhi’s message is very clear: Opening Mohabbat ki dukaan in nafrat ka bazaar,” he added.

“I was in the visitors’ gallery, and he did it as a gesture of affection. They can’t accept love,” Shiv Sena (Uddhav Thackeray) MP Priyanka Chaturvedi said.

“Why are they feeling bad about it? It was just a genuine gesture. Like he said, mohabbat ki dukaan. You people have got so used to hatred that you can’t accept love,” she lashed out at the BJP.

Congress MP Karti Chidambaram said it was unfortunate that the government was trying to divert the attention from the content of the (Gandhi’s) speech.”

Also read: SC stays Gandhi’s conviction in ‘Modi surname’ defamation case

Netizens clear the air

Many netizens and fact-checkers were quick to clear the air by posting the video of Wayanad MP’s flying kiss.

Factchecker and Alt News co-founder Mohammed Zubair tweeted: “Right wing trolls are trying to prove Rahul Gandhi was giving a flying kiss to Smriti Irani by cropping her pic from full frame.”\

Zubair posted screenshots of the visual from the Sansad TV, which showed Gandhi blowing a flying kiss towards the Speaker.

Meanwhile, netizens criticised Irani for not speaking up against the Manipur violence and other atrocities against women, in which BJP leaders were allegedly involved.

(With PTI inputs)