Congress MP Renuka Chowdhury can't seem to catch a break. In the middle of her farewell speech in the Rajya Sabha, the outgoing MP was asked to lose weight. The quip, from Vice President and Rajya Sabha Chairman Venkaiah Naidu, seemed to be in jest.
The jibe at Chowdhury follows a light-hearted retort from Prime Minister Narendra Modi in February, that Chowdhury's mocking laughter during his speech reminded him of Soorpanakha from the Ramayan television series. The comment had been met with intense criticism.
Ironically, Naidu's jibe came on a day when Chowdhury and another outgoing woman MP - Rajni Patil - spoke of the low representation on women in the Upper House and the need for change in mindset that led to what they alleged was discrimination against women in Parliament.
As part of her farewell address to the House, where she is finishing a six-year term. ""He (Naidu) knows me from many kilos before. Sir, many people worry about my weight but in this job, you need to throw your weight around," Chowdhury said, reported news agency PTI.
To this, Naidu quipped, "My simple suggestion is, reduce your weight and make efforts to increase the weight of the party". The comment was met with laughter from the members present.
Chowdhury continued with her speech, going on to say she has witnessed much in the Rajya Sabha, from Shah Bano to Soorpanakha. However, she did express a grouse on the role of women in the Upper House. "The lot of women has not improved tremendously. It is a pathetic 11 per cent even now (women's strength in Rajya Sabha). I really think we need more women," she said.
Rajni Patil, also of the Congress, too touched on issues concerning women in Parliament in her farewell speech. She alleged discrimination against women members and calling for a change in mindset. She also urged the ruling dispensation for early passage of the Women's Reservation Bill.
(With inputs from PTI)