#BeAMan trends in India after Opposition Leader belittles female Defence Minister
India’s Opposition Leader Rahul Gandhi has been chastised for comments he made about the country’s female Defence Minister in an attempt to criticise Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
- Mr Gandhi told Mr Modi not to leave it to a woman and “be a man”
- The hashtag #BeAMan started trending on Twitter
- Women’s rights groups criticised his remarks as irresponsible and disparaging
Mr Gandhi was slammed for “misogyny” after he called on Mr Modi to “be a man” and not leave it to a woman, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, to defend a controversial fighter jet acquisition.
He made the comments in Parliament during a debate over accusations of corruption surrounding India’s decision to purchase 36 Rafale planes from France.
The hashtag #BeAMan was soon trending on Twitter, with some women posting photos of themselves holding placards criticising Mr Gandhi.
Some people on social media noted that the ruling BJP party was driving the social media trend by tweeting #BeAMan, and asked why #BeAWoman couldn’t be used instead, to encourage female empowerment.
Ms Sitharaman is India’s second female defence minister.
Mr Gandhi’s grandmother, former Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi, was the first to hold the position.
India also has a female foreign affairs minister.
India’s National Commission for Women condemned Mr Gandhi’s comments.
“The remarks made are extremely misogynistic, offensive, unethical and show an extreme disrespect towards the dignity and honour of women in general,” the commission said in a statement.
“The commission strongly condemns such irresponsible and disparaging views of persons holding responsible positions.”
Mr Gandhi and Mr Modi are due to face off in national elections by May, with Mr Modi seeking re-election for a second five-year term as prime minister.