Congress slams Modi over 'despite being a woman' remark

New Delhi: The Congress on Monday accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of playing "partisan politics" in Bangladesh and targeted him over his remarks that Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has resolved to fight terrorism with zero tolerance "despite being a woman".

Congress leader Anand Sharma said Modi thought he was praising the Bangladeshi leader with his remarks but it was not the way respect is shown to a woman.

Modi paid a two-day visit to Bangladesh on Saturday and Sunday.

Sharma said South Asian countries had many woman leaders including Indira Gandhi.


Prime Minister Narendra Modi shakes hands with Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina on his arrival at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport, Kumitola, Dhaka ,Bangladesh on Saturday. Pic/PTI

"Sheikh Hasina is the prime minister of her country. Does he (Modi) want to say that ladies cannot take strong decisions? Does it mean that the prime minister needed to give a certificate to her? The big brother attitude, the patronising attitude of the prime minister cannot be called smart diplomacy," he said.

Congress spokesperson Shobha Oza also slammed Modi and alleged that the thinking of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh was "anti-women".

"The RSS has always refused to acknowledge women as 'shakti' (power) and this is a reason why Modi made the remarks," she said, referring to the prime minister's work in the RSS.

Sharma also said Modi presented the Land Boundary Agreement as his achievement though the protocol was signed during the UPA rule.

"It would have been better if the prime minister had presented it in a proper way and not his achievement... the prime minister has played partisan politics," Sharma said.

Taking digs at Modi, the Congress leader accused him of trying to rewrite history "by not recalling" the contribution of Indira Gandhi who was the prime minister during the 1971 India-Pakistan war which led to the emergence of Bangladesh as an independent country.

He said former prime minister and Bharatiya Janata Party leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee, on whose behalf Modi received the Bangladesh Liberation Award on Sunday, had described Indira Gandhi as "Durga" following the liberation of Bangladesh.

"While receiving the award, he (Modi) was not even ashamed of himself that he has come as prime minister of India and should have respected the deeds of the former prime minister Indira Gandhi," Sharma said.

The Congress leader said protocol for the LBA was signed by then prime minister Manmohan Singh in 2011 but was opposed by the BJP.

He said the Congress had shown maturity and the bill for ratification of the agreement was passed in parliament last month.

Sharma said Modi "has not risen to the stature that the PM's office expects" and excluded the chief ministers of Assam, Meghalaya and Tripura from his delegation during his visit to Bangladesh.

"The prime minister is expected to show grace. He is not representing himself but the Republic of India," Sharma said.

Referring to Modi's remarks about India sending back Pakistani prisoners of war, Sharma said it happened after the Shimla agreement was signed between Indira Gandhi and then Pakistan prime minister Zulfikar Bhutto.

He said Modi should take lessons in diplomacy and take precise lessons in history so that he "does not goof up".

The LBA was originally inked in 1974 between Indira Gandhi and Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Mujibur Rahman for the purpose of exchanging enclaves and simplifying the international border between the two countries.

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