Former Delhi Law Minister Somnath Bharti's controversial "beautiful women" comments were today condemned by various political parties and women rights activists while AAP appeared to distance itself from the remarks by its senior legislator.
BJP, Congress and CPI(M) slammed Bharti for the "derogatory" comments but the AAP MLA from Malviya Nagar insisted that he was just trying to explain a "kind of benchmark" for women's security as being pressed hard by AAP government.
Calling Bharti a serial offender, CPI(M)'s Brinda Karat said his comments at the Delhi Assembly reflected his "mentality" and quality of discussion at the house.
Bharti, who was allegedly involved in a midnight raid targeting a group of Africans in Malviya Nagar when he was Law Minister during AAP's 49-day stint in government, made the controversial remarks during a discussion in the Assembly on women security.
Lt Governor Najeeb Jung yesterday had given his nod to prosecute Bharti in connection with the raid in January, 2014.
Officials at Delhi Assembly said the comments were expunged from the records of the assembly late last evening.
Delhi BJP chief Satish Upadhyay called the comments "hugely insulting" for women in Delhi and said they reflected AAP government's views about women. "We condemn the comments."
Congress's Barkha Singh, who was chief of Delhi Commission for Women until last month, said, "The comments by Bartie that if Delhi Police was put under AAP government, then even the most beautiful women, wearing ornaments could safely travel in Delhi even in night, was an insult on the women community."
AAP spokesperson Reena Gupta said the party did not endorse Bharti's comments.
Bharti's wife Lipika Mitra, who in June had accused him of prolonged domestic violence, said, "If security of only beautiful women is taken care of, then where people like us will go."
She said she was ill treated "perhaps because I am an average looking woman. He clearly isn't concerned about my security but only the security of 'beautiful' women.
Coming down hard on Bharti, women rights activist Kavita Krishnan said the AAP MLA's statement implies that 'beauty' and 'jewellery' are things possessed by women that are "stolen" by miscreants. "Bharti proved he's a bigot and sexist."
Explaining his remarks, Bharti said "I have said beautiful women laden with jewelry can travel at midnight fearlessly as the kind of benchmark one can measure security level at Delhi against, if AAP has police control."