The Election Commission asked former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath to explain within 48 hours his “item” remark against a woman BJP candidate.
Earlier this week, the Congress leader had triggered a controversy after allegedly calling the BJP’s Imarti Devi an “item“. He then refused to apologise, even after the expressed disapproval of senior party leader Rahul Gandhi.
Election Commission gives opportunity
“The Election Commission gives you an opportunity to explain your stand in making the above said statement within 48 hours of receipt of this notice, failing which the Election Commission of India shall take a decision without further reference to you,” the poll body notice said.
Earlier, Nath had told reporters, “I have already clarified the context in which I made that statement… Why should I apologise when I did not intend to insult anyone? If anyone felt insulted, I have already expressed regret.”
On Monday, Nath, while explaining away the issue, said “Item” was a commonly used term everywhere, including parliament. And it was not an insult of any sort.
“I just didn’t remember the (person’s) name… this list (in his hand) says item no.1, item no.2. Is this an insult?” Kamal Nath said the woman was a minister in his 15-month government. “I did not say anything disrespectful and I respect women. If anyone thinks this is disrespectful, then I regret it,” he added.
Kamal Nath steps into controversy
Imarti Devi was among the 22 MLAs, who walked out of the party with Jyotiraditya Scindia, leading to the collapse of the Congress government in March.
Nath had stepped into controversy on Sunday while campaigning for party candidate Suresh Raje, contesting from Dabra against Imarti Devi.
“Why should I take the name (of the opposing candidate)? You all know that person better than me. What an item,” Nath had said.
The BJP and the woman candidate have demanded Nath’s expulsion from the Congress.
In her appeal to Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, Imarti Devi has questioned if she would have condoned the statement had it been made about her daughter.
“I want to appeal to Sonia Gandhi, who is also a mother, not to keep such people in her party. Will she tolerate it if anybody said something like this about her daughter?” she had told news agency ANI.