Newly-inducted Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) member Naresh Agrawal was highly criticised by several leaders for his controversial remarks against actor-turned-politician Jaya Bachchan on the very first day.
Addressing the press conference on Monday, Agrawal said, "My status was reduced to that of a film actor. Because of her, the ticket was not given to me, which I did not find right. I just want to serve the BJP, I have no conditions and no demand for a ticket in the Rajya Sabha."
Agrawal, who has been wrapped up in controversies even in the past over his statements, made the remarks in the presence BJP leaders, including Union minister Piyush Goyal.
The BJP, meanwhile, was left red-faced. However, Sambit Patra, however, immediately distanced his party from Agrawal's remarks, saying his party respects people from all fields and welcomed them in politics.
Agrawal is not new to controversy. Last July while speaking in the Rajya Sabha, he likened Hindu gods and goddesses to alcohol, triggering an uproar.
ALSO READ: Naresh Agrawal hasn't done it first time...
Sushma Swaraj took to Twitter saying comments about Jaya were "improper and unacceptable".
Shri Naresh Agarwal has joined Bhartiya Janata Party. He is welcome. However, his comments regarding Jaya Bachhan ji are improper and unacceptable.— Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) March 12, 2018
My case is in the court of law for 5 years now. But let my battle not be an excuse to humiliate other women. In fact let it be a reminder for us that when a woman’s honour is challenged we stand as one in our condemnation irrespective of our politics. https://t.co/beneLYVHnk— Smriti Z Irani (@smritiirani) March 12, 2018
Following condemnation from his senior party leaders, Agrawal regretted his earlier made comments.
While speaking to ANI, he clarified that his intentions were not to hurt anyone.
"I had said something which was given a different angle by the media. All I can say is that I didn't intend to hurt anyone.
I express my regret, if it did hurt anyone. I take back my words," he added.
Here are the top highlights:
1. Before joining BJP, Naresh Agrawal wanted to know if govt accepted demo was the worst call
Days before Rajya Sabha MP Naresh Agrawal joined the ruling BJP, he had put a rather inconvenient question to the government, asking if it has accepted that demonetisation was its "worst decision".
Denied a re-nomination to the Upper House by Samajwadi Party, Agrawal joined BJP yesterday. But days before that he had put a written question to the finance minister, the reply to which was given today.
In an unstarred question, he had wanted the finance minister to state if "it is a fact that government has accepted that its decision of demonetisation was the worst decision; (and) if so the reasons thereof."
2. Naresh Agrawal apologises:
The earlier remarks made by Naresh Agrawal left leaders of the party abashed. Following condemnation by other party members, Agrawal regretted his earlier made comments.
Talking to media, Agrawal said, "Agar meri kisibaatsekisi ko thespahuchi hai toh main khedvyaktkarta hun. (I am sorry for the inconvenience caused by any of my statement).
3. Akhilesh Yadav corners BJP over Naresh Agrarwal's statement on Jaya:
Samajwadi Party (SP) President Akhilesh Yadav also condemned Agrawal's remarks. He took to Twitter and said that such derogatory remark is an insult for not only to Bollywood fraternity but also to all women in the country.
Yadav also demanded the BJP to take immediate and strict action against Agrawal for his remark, if the party respects women.
श्रीमती जया बच्चन जी पर की गयी अभद्र टिप्पणी के लिए हम भाजपा के श्री नरेश अग्रवाल के बयान की कड़ी निंदा करते है. ये फिल्म जगत के साथ ही भारत की हर महिला का भी अपमान है. भाजपा अगर सच में नारी का सम्मान करती है तो तत्काल उनके ख़िलाफ कदम उठाये. महिला आयोग को भी कार्रवाई करनी चाहिए.— Akhilesh Yadav (@yadavakhilesh) March 13, 2018
4. Swaraj, Irani and other BJP leaders unhappy with Naresh Agrawal's remark; welcome him nonetheless:
Agrawal's remark did no go down well with the leaders of his new party. Senior leader Sushma Swaraj welcomed Agarwal on board but said his comment is not acceptable. Swaraj took to Twitter saying comments about Jaya were "improper and unacceptable".
Re-tweeting her comment, Information and Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani posted that "when a woman's honour is challenged we stand as one in our condemnation irrespective of our politics."
ALSO READ: Akhilesh Yadav corners BJP over Naresh Aggarwal's statement on Jaya
5. Dancers and film actors were preferred over him for the nominations for the upper house of Parliament:
"My comparison was drawn with those working in films... I was rejected for those who dance in films, work in films", he said.
He was referring to the nomination of film actor Jaya Bachchan by the Samajwadi Party for a Rajya Sabha seat from Uttar Pradesh in the coming biennial elections, ignoring Agrawal's claim. His term in the upper house is coming to an end shortly.
6. Agrawal has often changed parties in the last over 30 years of his political career:
He had earlier been with the Akhil Bhartiya Loktantrik Congress with Jagdambika Pal, Rajeev Shukla and Shyam Sunder Sharma that allied with the BJP government headed by Kalyan Singh in Uttar Pradesh in 1997.
Describing his joining the BJP as "homecoming", he said he would unconditionally do whatever the party wanted him to.
"I have not joined the Bharatiya Janata Party for any Rajya Sabha ticket, nor have I set any condition."
Agrawal, who has been one of the most vocal critics of the Narendra Modi government and the BJP in the Rajya Sabha in the last few years, lauded the Prime Minister and BJP chief Amit Shah.
ALSO READ: Sharad slams Agrawal for comments targeting Jaya Bachchan
7. Naresh Agrawal was a staunch supporter of Akhilesh Yadav:
In 2016, amid a turf war in Mulayam Singh Yadav's family, Naresh Agrawal asserted Akhilesh Yadav will be the chief ministerial candidate of Samajwadi Party in the upcoming Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh.
"Election will be contested under the guidance of Akhilesh Yadav and Mulayam Singh Yadav. Akhilesh will remain the chief ministerial candidate," the party's Rajya Sabha MP said.
8. Mulayam expelled Naresh Agrawal:
In the midst of the bitter feud in the Yadav clan, Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh, in January 2017, expelled Naresh Agrawal for attending the national convention called by the Akhilesh camp.
Agrawal rejected his expulsion from the party by Mulayam Singh Yadav. "Netaji's (Mulayam) step is totally unconstitutional. He has lost the power to expel anyone from the party as our national president is now Akhilesh Yadav," Agrawal had said.
9. Naresh Agrawal's BJP move leave Congress, BSP, SP disappointed:
Agarwal made it clear after joining that his son would vote in favour of BJP candidates in Rajya Sabha elections and complained that he was compared to the woman working in films, while selecting the candidate for Rajya Sabha. Agarwal is a sitting Rajya Sabha MP, whose term would end on April 2 along with nine other seats in Uttar Pradesh. The election on these 10 Rajya Sabha seats from Uttar Pradesh would take place on March 23.
10. Naresh Agrawal has always triggered row with his irresponsible statements:
From linking the names of Hindu gods with alcohol to his triple talaq comments, Agrawal has always triggered row with his irresponsible statements.
Triple Talaq: Naresh Agarwal drew flak for calling Muslim women demanding a strict law against Triple Talaq as non-Muslims and BJP supporters. The Muslim women who were present at the Rajya Sabha gallery to watch the Triple Talaq debate were termed BJP supporters by Agarwal.
Lynching debate: A massive uproar broke out in the Rajya Sabha last year when the SP MP linked the names of Hindu gods with alcohol. He narrated an incident in 1991 when he visited a school that was turned into a jail. He said the names of some Hindu deities linked to some types of alcohol were written on the wall of the school. Pointing towards the treasury bench, Agrawal said these lines were written by “your people”.
Pakistan treated terrorist as a terrorist, says Naresh Agarwal on Kulbhushan Jadhav issue:
Justifying the treatment meted out to Jadhav and his family in Pakistan, Senior Samajwadi Party leader Naresh Agarwal today sparked a controversy by saying Pakistan has recognised Jadhav as a terrorist so has treated him accordingly.
“Agar unhone (Pakistan) Kulbhushan Jadhav ko aatankwadiapnedeshmein mana hai, to wousshisaabse vyavhaar karenge; humaredeshmeinbhiaatankwadiyonkesaathaisa hi vyavhaarkarnachahiye (If Pakistan has recognised Jadhav as a terrorist, they will treat him likewise; India should also treat terrorists like this," Naresh Agarwal said outside the Parliament.
BJP heavily criticised Naresh Agarwal for his statement. BJP spokesman GVL Narasimha Rao called the SP leader's comments a "betrayal of national interest".