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Rahul’s Jibe on Lack of Women in RSS Provocative but Well-Meaning

The Congress VP’s remark has been interpreted by BJP to mean that Rahul Gandhi wants to “see women in shorts”.

Updated
Politics
2 min read
Rahul Gandhi in Gujarat. <i>(Photo: PTI)</i>

“Ever seen women in shorts at RSS shakhas?”

A well-intentioned, albeit provocative, comment by Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi backfired on Tuesday, 10 October, as it sparked outrage from the BJP. Addressing a gathering of students in Vadodara, as part of his his three-day rally in Gujarat ahead of the state elections, the Congress scion lambasted the RSS for discriminating against women.

While pointing out that the RSS ranks have little or no room for women, Gandhi sarcastically said:

Inka (BJP) main sangathan RSS hai. Kitni mahila hain usme? Kabhi shaakha mein mahilaon ko dekha hai shorts mein? Maine toh nahi dekha (The RSS is the BJP’s parent organisation. How many women are in the RSS? Have you ever seen women in shorts in RSS shakhas? I haven’t).
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By “shorts”, Gandhi was referring to the uniform of khaki shorts that RSS members wore during drills (until recently).

Also Read: From Khaki Shorts to Trousers, RSS Tries to Keep Up With the Times

His remark, however, has been construed by members of the BJP to mean that the Congress VP “wants to see women in shorts,” with many slamming his comment as “indecent”.

Information and Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani alleged that Rahul Gandhi meant to disrespect the “sisters, wives and sisters-in-law of ordinary Sangh workers.” A political slugfest has now ensued with the BJP demanding an apology from Gandhi. On Wednesday, 11 October. party workers in Rajkot also held protests against Gandhi.

Social Media Weighs In

While Gandhi’s choice of words – to make his larger point – was inappropriate and questionable at best, the remark does nothing to imply that he “wants to see women in shorts”.

Whether his remarks were intentioned to disrespect women or the “sisters connected with the Sangh”, what is clear is that Gandhi meant to offend the BJP (his main political opponent) and its parent organisation – with a comment as incriminating as BJP president Amit Shah’s “Italian glasses” remark about the Congress VP.

Given the times we live in, the debate has naturally moved to social media.

Shouldn’t the BJP be rebutting the Congress VP with facts and the number of women in the RSS instead of taking offence where Gandhi meant none?

Given the larger picture, and considering the point Gandhi was actually trying to make, this faux pas should perhaps be forgiven as a momentary lapse.

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