Karnataka BJP leader and former legislator Sanjay Patil made a controversial and derogatory remark on Belagavi Rural MLA Lakshmi Hebbalkar claiming that she became an MLA through 'night culture'. Lakshmi Hebbalkar, had defeated Sanjay Patil in the last assembly elections by a whopping margin of 51,727 votes in the Belagavi Rural constituency.
"He is a BJP district president and he has repeatedly stressed on this night culture comment - I still didn't understand exactly what he is referring to here but this is directed at the character of a woman political leader and creates fear... He (Sanjay Patil) is trying to mislead the public and suggesting that women should not be in politics," Lakshmi Hebbalkar told TNM responding to Sanjay Patil's comment.
"I don't want to address Sanjay Patil but I want to ask if this is a BJP statement? I want to ask Nalin Kumar Kateel (BJP State President) and Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai if this is a statement endorsed by the BJP since the party also has 3 women MLAs," Lakshmi Hebbalkar added.
Sanjay Patil suggested in a statement made on Thursday that Lakshmi Hebbalkar became an MLA "only through night culture". He added that this culture was synonymous with the Congress party. "The BJP does not practice this kind of culture. "The Congress is synonymous with night culture. Lakshmi Hebbalkar could only become MLA as she is known to that night culture," he added.
Lakshmi Hebbalkar also added that she was pained by the personal remark. "It is easy to comment on women and make allegations against them. We have to tolerate and live with these types of comments, this will be very painful. My blood is not boiling, but I am very sad and will answer him in the next assembly elections in 2023," she said speaking to IANS.
She chided Sanjay Patil for being a devotee of Lord Ram, yet using this kind of language. "He should explain what he means by 'night culture'. My voters will give him a befitting reply for his comment in elections," she reiterated.
Sanjay Patil recently put up posters in the area chiding Lakshmi Hebbalkar for the pathetic condition of roads. She responded that her rivals have put these pictures in the night only to embarrass her. Patil in reaction to her statement made the comment of 'night culture'.
"Lakshmi Hebbalkar just could have the strength to face the truth. Before becoming an MLA, she claimed that she is the daughter of the people of the constituency. She told people that she would bring a lot of development to the area," Patil said.
Sandalwood actor Chethan Ahimsa took to Twitter to condemn Sanjay Patil's remarks and called for the leader to apologise. "A former BJP MLA makes dubious remarks at Belagavi Rural MLA @laxmi_hebbalkar claiming she became an MLA via â€˜night cultureâ€™ "No woman politician of any party deserves to be spoken to in such a derogatory manner. @CMofKarnataka Bommai must have his party member apologise for this," he said in a tweet.
This is not the first time women political leaders in Karnataka have been slandered or targeted. In July, former Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy made personal remarks about independent MP Sumalatha while debating about the Krishnarajasagara dam issue. Kumaraswamy had suggested to Sumalatha to sleep at the gates of the dam in response to her claims that the dam was leaking.
There are only 8 women MLAs in the 224-member Karnataka Assembly. Earlier in September, 4 women MLAs MLAs Anjali Nimbalkar, Roopakala M, Sowmya Reddy, Kusuma Shivalli (all Congress) and Anglo-Indian MLA Vinisha Nero, jumped into the well of the Assembly during a debate on the recent Mysuru gang-rape case. When Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai attempted to deflect discussion on the case and read out statistics of the number of rapes reported when the Congress was in power, the women MLA's unitedly made passionate statements on the crimes against women. Even BJP's K Poornima joined the outpouring in the Assembly and stated that men are never questioned for what they wear.