President Pranab Mukherjee's son Abhijit Mukherjee has dragged himself into a controversy over his 'sexist' remarks where he purportedly said women protesting against the Delhi rape case in the national capital New Delhi were 'beautiful women who were highly dented and painted'.
The remarks immediately triggered a nationwide shock and outrage on Thursday with women, including Abhijit´s own daughter Sharmistha Mukherjee, reacting sharply that saw the new MP take back his words.
Abhijit Mukherjee on Thursday retracted his comments and said: "I withdraw those words and apologize unconditionally."
He said he was quoted out of context and his intention was not to hurt anyone, but his remark was in reference to a specific question on some people who went to Delhi to protest while they kept silent when attacks on women took place in Kolkata and West Bengal.
Speaking to a vernacular channel, Abhijit Mukherjee had said: "These women who are protesting have no contact with ground reality...I know every well that what kind of character students should have. I can only see many beautiful women among them who are highly dented and painted. They are claiming to be students."
"They are giving interviews on TV..I have grave doubts whether they are students. Usually women of this age are not student," he said, adding that many are taking their children out.
He also said there could be a political hand behind the protests and people with ulterior motives might be regulating it.
President´s daughter and Abhijit Mukherjee´s sister Sharmistha Mukherjee said her brother´s comments were ´shocking´.
"I do not know the context but it came as a bit of a shocker. From whatever the headlines it is definitely something we as family do not agree to it. We completely empathise with the protesters," said Sharmistha Mukherjee.
She said this is not just one incident but accumulated anger of people.
Sharmistha Mukherjee said it does not matter whether ´it is a student or not´.
She said she is herself an emancipated working woman and she does not ´agree with it´.
"My father is absolutely with me in this," said Sharmistha Mukherjee who apologized on behalf of his brother.
"My father said the anger is absolutely justifiable and in his personal talk with me also he said so," she said.
India´s main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) criticised the Congress MP and said his remarks were shocking.
"Now people would need to get No Objection Certificates from Congress to hold candle light protests," BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain said mockingly.
Reacting on the incident, filmmaker Farhan Akhtar tweeted: "Abhijit Mukherjee, the Presidents son, says students should not wear make up and/or go to discotheques!! #alltimelow."
"U cant blame the President for his sons comment but I think as his parents, they should ground him and start home-schooling him again," he said.
Social activist and former top cop Kiran Bedi tweeted: "Sister condemns brother´s bizarre statement on women protesters. Party and Parents can regret and ask him to apologize for national message!"
Meanwhile, a protest march taken out by citizens on Thursday evoked strong reactions among people over Abhijit Mukherjee´s remarks.
"It is extremely misogynist and sexist comment and it proves that they have failed to understand what the protest is all about," said a woman activist on the march.
Twitterati other than celebrities also reacted with shock and slammed the son of the President for his remarks.
One post said the son of President has gone to educational institution but did not have an education.
Another Cain tweeted: "Dear Abhijit Mukherjee, denting and painting is actually necessary repair work: not only are you sexist, you also have your metaphor wrong."
One Lokesh Aggarwal questioned: "Women braved cold, water cannons & police lathis demanding justice for a stranger. What have you done for the victim, Abhijit Mukherjee?"
Another Twitterati said: "Abhijit Mukherjee is one more living example of people with power can do anything and get away with it."
Women groups were outraged too.
"This is unacceptable coming from the son of President and it is absolutely a lewd remark. He should unconditionally apologize," said Ranjana Kumari of Centre for Social Research.