Rajya Sabha MP Naresh Agrawal's entry into the Bharatiya Janata Party had all the makings of a political hot potato. A political turncoat who has had his fair share of experience at the Congress, Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party and back to the SP, Naresh Agarwal on Monday formally joined the saffron party in the presence of Union minister Piyush Goyal and other party leaders.
Rajya Sabha MP Naresh Agrawal’s entry into the Bharatiya Janata Party had all the makings of a political hot potato. A political turncoat who has had his fair share of experience at the Congress, Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party and back to the SP, Naresh Agarwal on Monday formally joined the saffron party in the presence of Union minister Piyush Goyal and other party leaders. While social media was already abuzz with the defence that the BJP would have to this latest entrant — given his frequent run-ins with controversy — the leader’s remarks upon his entry into the BJP fold came as a jolt to the BJP.
The former Samajwadi Party leader, moments after joining the ruling party at the Centre, termed Jaya Bachchan as someone “who used to dance in films”. Agrawal said he was denied the RS ticket by SP for somebody who used to dance and act in films. “For somebody who used to dance in films, act in films, I was denied a ticket (for Rajya Sabha). I did not find it appropriate,” Agrawal said at the BJP headquarters. The exact phrase he used was “dance karnewali”.
The remarks have not gone down well with top leaders in the BJP, drawing damning condemnation from External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Information and Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani. Swaraj took to Twitter saying that Agrawal’s remarks regarding the actor-turned-politician were “improper and unacceptable”. “Shri Naresh Agarwal has joined Bhartiya Janata Party. He is welcome. However, his comments regarding Jaya Bachhan ji are improper and unacceptable,” Swaraj Tweeted.
Irani, on the other hand, cited her run-in against Sanjay Nirupam. She said that her case has been in the court of law for 5 years. She underlined that her battle should not be an excuse to humiliate other women. “In fact, let it be a reminder for us that when a woman’s honour is challenged, the women stand as one in our condemnation irrespective of our politics,” Irani posted on Twitter.
The comment has drawn sharp reactions from former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav as well. Notably, Agarwal was seen as a staunch loyalist of the younger Yadav in the middle of the family feud prior to the elections. Yadav criticised Agarwal’s remark, terming it an insult to all women of film fraternity and India.
Naresh Agarwal’s knack for creating controversies is not new. Last year, he targetted Rajya Sabha MPs Sachin Tendulkar and actress Rekha. He also asked them to resign on the ground of their “non-attendance”. “They should resign if they are not interested in parliament, they are hardly present in parliament,” Agarwal said. However, this was not the first time that Agarwal has raised the issue. In March, Agarwal had said, “We have been yearning to see the presence of nominated members. They never come to the house. The entire session is over, but we haven’t seen them, be he Tendulkar or film actress Rekha or others.”
Agarwal has also been vocal in his views against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party previously.