Politicians making anti-women comments should be asked to go home: Jairam Ramesh

Last Updated: Fri, Jan 11, 2013 05:46 hrs

New Delhi: Taking a strong stand against the statements made by some politicians over the gang-rape of a 23-year-old medical student in Delhi, Union Minister Jairam Ramesh said such people should be asked to "go home".

The minister said he felt "diminished as a human being" after the December incident which has hurt India's image across the world.

"None of us have come out of this looking good. Personally as a man, as an Indian, I felt demeaned by what happened. I felt diminished as a human being," he said.

Asked whether those who made insensitive statements should be punished or not, Mr Ramesh said, "Privately I think anybody who makes such comments should be asked to go home. You make this comment with full knowledge. It is not that you have been misquoted... I find it appalling actually."

Justifying the angry reaction from masses after the incident, he said the opportunity should be used to sensitise people and initiate political reforms in the country.

"There is anger against the political class and political process, which I think is perfectly justified... I would be the first to say that political class must look inwards. Why are we taking so much time on electoral reforms? Why are we giving tickets to criminals? Why are we giving tickets to people against whom rape charges have been framed," he said.

He said people are asking legitimate questions from the political parties. "Why can't the political parties change their way of funding? The greatest source of black money in our country today is political financing. But there is no major reforms in this," he said.

Mr Ramesh suggested abolishing the MPLAD scheme and using the money to finance legitimate political activities.

"Ten years ago I had suggested that just abolish MPLADs and put that as state funding of elections. Today we are spending close to Rs. 5000 crore a year on MPLADs," he said.

Mr Ramesh said all politicians should not be painted with the same brush.

"I don't think you can paint all politicians in all political parties with the same brush. There are black sheep, we have to isolate them. We must keep them aside, we must reform our political financing and electoral reforms," he added.

On typecasting Ministries such as Women and Child Development by putting them under women Ministers, Mr Ramesh said he will accept the portfolio if he gets the opportunity.

"Let me tell you if I am offered the Women and Child Development Ministry, I will gladly take it. I think it is a very important portfolio. I think this is typecasting and we have to get out of this typecasting," he said.

He also took a dig at religious leaders for making insensitive remarks.

"Look at some of the statements that have been made by so called religious personalities who appear on television giving solace to lakhs of Indian. If this is their mindset, then I am afraid we have a long way to go," he said.

Along with political and administrative reforms, the Minister also strongly advocated police reforms and making the force autonomous and professional.

Mr Ramesh, who also headed the Drinking Water and Sanitation Ministry till last Cabinet reshuffle, said one of the ways to ensure security and dignity for women is to ensure toilets for them.

"One of the most powerful thing any government can do is to take up the sanitation issue as a national obsession and make sure that all women have toilets, both in rural areas and urban areas," he said.

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