VADODARA: Attacking the Sangh parivar over the issue of women empowermentm Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday sparked off a row with his remarks that were no "women in shorts in RSS shakhas".
The remark drew immediate condemnation from the BJP with Union Minister Smriti Irani terming them as "indecent" and that if Gandhi believes that wearing shorts is a sign of empowerment of women in India, she condemns the notion, while her colleague Prakash Javadekar accused Gandhi of not knowing how RSS works.
Gandhi, who talked to youth in Vadodara, accused the Sangh Parivar of "not being interested in giving rights to women" and said women were present at all levels in the Congress. He also said Gujarat did not figure among the top 10 states in female literacy.
"It is fine with them if a woman is quiet. But if she speaks, the tendency is to make her quiet," he alleged.
Referring to BJP and RSS, Gandhi said "women empowerment was never their priority."
"They are not interested in rights of women. I ask you a simple question. Their main organisation is RSS. How many women are there. Have you seen women in shorts in shakhas? Have you seen. I have not seen. You get to know about an organisation from its structure," Gandhi said.
"There are women in Congress at every level. In RSS, you will not find a single woman. What mistake have they made that they cannot enter the RSS," he added.
Shorts were worn by RSS volunteers while they attended shakhas (daily gathering) earlier but the dress has now changed to trousers.
Information and Broadcasting Minister Irani, who was at Amethi, the constituency of Gandhi, hit back at Gandhi over his remarks pertaining to RSS.
"The remarks that Rahul Gandhi made about our sisters in Rashtriya Sevika Sangh or who have joined the Sangh in some capacity or are sisters, daughters, wives and relatives of Swayamsevaks... the indecent remark that he has made about women. If Rahulji believes that wearing shorts is a sign of empowerment in India then as a woman, I condemn it," she said.
Human Resource Development Minister Javadekar said: "He (Gandhi) has never seen the shakhas. In (RSS' woman wing) Rashtriya Sevika Samiti, women hold separate shakhas. But Rahul Gandhi never tried to know about it. He only tweets and that too dictated content."