Rural women not attractive, won't gain from women's bill: Mulayam

Beauty and politics

Samajwadi Party (SP) supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav kicked up a row with his remark at a rally in Barabanki on Thursday that rural women will not benefit from the Women’s Reservation Bill because they are not as attractive as women from the affluent class.

Mulayam, whose party is in power in Uttar Pradesh and is lending outside support to the UPA government, made the comment while articulating his opposition to the long pending Women’s Reservation Bill. “Bade bade gharon ki ladkiya aur mahilayan kewal upar ja sakti hain, yaad rakhna, apko mauka nahi milega hamare gaon ki mahila me akarshan itna nahin,” (Only girls and women from affluent classes can go forward, remember this, you (rural women) will not get a chance. Rural women are not attractive),” he said.

Mulayam made the remark while claiming that if the Bill is passed, women belonging to the affluent class will march ahead while those from poorer background will be further deprived.

The row over Mulayam’s comment was a throwback to the controversy over his remark, dubbed sexist, in 2010, that if the Women’s Reservation Bill is passed it will fill Parliament with the kind of women who will invite catcalls and whistles. Mulayam, whose party was then in the Opposition, drew flak from political parties and women’s groups. The Bill proposes 33 per cent quota for women in the Lok Sabha and state assemblies.

BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman condemned Mulayam’s remark and said there is a need to get out of the “mindset” of looking at women from the prism of whether they are attractive or not. “We are not a commodity, women have a big contribution to make,” she added.

On Friday, Mulayam said his party would support the Bill if the government agreed to provide quota for Dalits, Muslims and Backward castes.

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