Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi yesterday drew flak for his “flippant” remark that malnutrition in his state was due to women, especially young girls, becoming “more beauty conscious” and watching their weight.
Modi, while explaining the state’s high child malnutrition and maternal mortality rate in an interview to the Wall Street Journal, said, “Gujarat is by and large a vegetarian state. And secondly, Gujarat is also a middle-class state. The middle-class is more beauty conscious than health conscious — that is a challenge. If a mother tells her daughter to have milk, they’ll have a fight. She’ll tell her mother, ‘I won’t drink milk. I’ll get fat’.”
The Congress asked him to withdraw the statement, terming it an insult to the women of Gujarat. Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni termed Modi’s remark as flippant. “It is the women who sacrifice food so that their families can eat. And today, he is saying that they are doing it for the sake of fashion. The women of Gujarat should protest against him,” she said.
Gujarat has a very high child and maternal mortality rate, said state Congress president Arjun Modvadia, adding that Modi despite ruling the state for so many years, “was blaming women for malnutrition, which was a mockery of women of the state”.
While Rajiv Shukla termed Modi’s statement as shameful. “In Gujarat, the children in villages have very poor nutritional levels. He is obviously not concerned about the nutrition of people in the villages,” he said.
However, BJP leader Prakash Javadekar brushed aside the criticism of his party’s CM, saying the Congress suffers from a ‘Modi-phobia’ and “each time they hear the name of Narendra Modi, they attack him”.