Former mayor Shubha Raul has asserted that Congress corporator Sheetal Mhatre lobbed an affront on the whole of womanhood by placing her bangles on mayor Sunil Prabhu’s desk when he refused to sound out opposition parties over the Mahalaxmi racecourse issue in the BMC house on Tuesday.
Bristling at the charge, Congress corporators fired back, saying their Sena counterpart should be the last one upbraiding them from high moral ground since her party hasn’t exactly been feting women’s honour in the house.
On Thursday, Raul wrote to the Congress office in BMC, demanding that Mhatre issue an apology. “The saying ‘Chudiyan pehen ke ghar par baitho’ should be outlawed. By giving bangles to the mayor, she has insulted the whole of woman community and I have asked her to apologise to women. In an age when we talk about women’s empowerment, such acts hamper the overall movement,” she said.
But Mhatre claims she never received any letter from Raul. She instead said the Shiv Sena corporator was on a witch-hunt for her. “The Sena has lost issues. For them, targeting me is the only option left,” said Mhatre. She added, “What is Raul talking about? When her party leaders hit me that day, wasn’t that insulting a woman in the house?”
Pot, kettle & honour
Mhatre’s party colleague Waqarunnisa Ansari answered her rhetorical question by fulminating against the Sena, saying the saffron party has no business talking about the dignity of women.
She said the same Raul who appears riled today sat mum in 2002, when some women corporators from her party tore Ansari’s sari. “Wasn’t a woman being shamed in the house then? But Raul preferred to keep silent,” she said.
“I remember when in 2002, the Sena corporators ripped off my sari in the house. Where was Raul? She was sitting with her corporators, silent. It was her second term as corporator; it wasn’t that she was new and couldn’t speak out against those clutching at my sari,” said Ansari. When MiD DAY relayed the charges levelled by Congress members to Raul, she avoided a direct response, stating only, “I cannot accept any insult to any woman and would never take anything against a woman lying down.”
Ansari said that on Tuesday, when Mhatre kept her bangles on the mayor’s desk, she realised that Sena corporators would react in the same manner as they had done in 2002.
“I recollected my incident and got up to protect Mhatre. I told all those men going to attack her that they should remain in their limits. It was Rahul Shewale who came to rescue and controlled the situation. Had I not intervened, the condition would have gone out of hand,” said Ansari.