New Delhi: JD-U chief Sharad Yadav on Monday said his comments on women's complexion were misinterpreted and refused to apologise, stating that he was ready for a debate on the topic.
The Janata Dal-United (JD-U) leader had got away lightly when he made the comments last week, as several members laughed them over.
He, however, faced the heat on Monday over his remarks as Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani said he did not need to comment on women's complexion at all.
Yadav, during the debate on the insurance bill in the Rajya Sabha last week, spoke on India's obsession for fair skin, and said: "Your god is dark like Ravi Shankar Prasad, but your matrimonial ads insist on white-skinned brides."
Referring to complexion of south Indian women, he said: "The women of the south are dark but they are as beautiful as their bodies... We don't see it here. They know (how to) dance."
After much uproar over Yadav's comments across the country, union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Monday said: "Comments were made on south Indian women, I was also mentioned, I remained quiet. I want to keep myself away from that comment."
"I completely disagree with the comment. Ask the member to withdraw the comment," he urged the chair.
Trying to clarify, Yadav said his comments were misinterpreted.
"There are more dusky women in India and in the world... I can discuss the issue with anyone, we are in favour of Indian culture."
Irani, responding sharply, said the member should not comment on the complexion of women in any way.
"I appeal through you (chair) to the gentleman, do not make comments about the colour of any woman's skin. You (Yadav) are a senior member, a very wrong message is going to the rest of the country," she said.
Yadav responded by saying: "I strongly refute the allegation."
"From (Mahatma) Gandhi to (Ram Manohar) Lohia, I have all the record of what has been said about women. A lot of struggle has been done for women with dark complexion," he said, to which Irani responded by saying: "Please don't do this. Naming Lohia and Gandhi and commenting on women."
DMK leader Kanimozhi too joined Irani in her protest against Yadav. "Women from all parties are together, we demand a regret on it," she said.
Deputy Chairman P.J. Kurien said he would not allow a discussion on the issue.
"White complexion or dark complexion, it is all the same, I am not allowing a discussion on this," Kurien said.
Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said the issue should not be discussed as it will get more complicated.
Yadav, however, said he was ready to participate in a discussion.
"There has been a long struggle against discrimination based on colour... I am ready to participate in a debate any time," said Yadav.