Maharashtra Water Supply and Sanitation Minister Gulabrao Patil has apologized for his comments comparing roads in his constituency with Hema Malini’s cheeks after it triggered widespread condemnation from political parties like the BJP and the NCP and drew the state women’s commission’s ire.
The senior Shiv Sena leader reportedly made the remark during an election meeting, a clip of which has since been under circulation on social media platforms.
Addressing a meeting for the Bodwad Nagar Panchayat polls in the north Maharashtra district, Patil was heard asking his opponents to visit his constituency to check for themselves the quality of roads there and soon after, dragged the veteran Bollywood actor and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP to apparently come up with a more concrete conclusion of his statement.
“Those who have been MLAs for 30 years should come to my constituency and see the roads. If they are not like Hema Malini’s cheeks, then I will resign,” the water supply and sanitation minister said. Patil’s remarks were reportedly at former BJP leader Eknath Khadse, who was an MLA from Jalgaon for several years.
In the meantime, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut said: “This type of comparison has happened earlier too. It’s a respect for Hema Malini. So, don’t see it negatively. Earlier, Lalu Yadav had also given a similar example. We respect Hema Malini.”
Earlier, Rupali Chakankar, the chairperson of the Maharashtra State Commission for Women, had objected to the remarks and threatened legal action if the minister failed to apologise publicly.
“The commission has taken note of the comment. If the minister doesn’t tender an apology, he will have to face legal action,” said Chakankar in a video statement on Sunday.
Following her warning, Patil apologised for his statement.
While speaking with reporters in Dhule, the minister said, “I didn’t mean to hurt anybody. I apologise for the comments. I belong to the Shiv Sena, which idolises Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. Party founder Balasaheb Thackeray has taught us to respect women.”
Last month, Rajasthan minister and Congress leader Rajendra Singh Gudha compared the roads in his constituency to the cheeks of actress Katina Kaif. A similar statement was made in 2019 by former Madhya Pradesh minister PC Sharma. The distasteful analogy was brought to public attention in 2005 by former Bihar chief minister Lalu Prasad Yadav.