Samajwadi Party MP Mohd Azam Khan is not only facing flak for his indecent remarks against a woman presiding officer in the Lok Sabha, he is also on the target of women in Uttar Pradesh.
Shaista Amber, President of the All India Muslim Women''s Personal Law Board (AIMWPLB), termed Azam Khan''s conduct "shameful".
"He should have realised that he was addressing the chair and not just a woman or his sister. What example is he setting for the younger generation? If women are being targeted like this inside Parliament, who can guarantee their security outside? I feel he should be given punishment as per law so that such instances do not happen again," she said.
Sushma Patel, a first-time Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) MLA said: "The language used by Azam Khan has hurt the dignity and honour of women. He should apologise in Parliament as well as to all women."
A woman Congress leader, who requested anonymity, said: "What happened should not have happened. Azam Khan is a senior leader and he should take care about what he says and where he says."
Aparna Yadav, young daughter-in-law of Samajwadi Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav, was equally critical of Mohd Azam Khan.
Aparna, who is closer to uncle Shivpal Yadav than to SP chief Akhilesh Yadav, said: "I don''t know why he said what he said. There was no provocation and he is known as a man with good oratory skills. Azam Khan should know what behaviour is expected of him in Parliament and he should tender an apology."
Support for Azam Khan, however, came from expected quarters -- Samajwadi Party.
Women politicians in the party -- and there are very few of them -- said that anyone who knows Azam Khan, also knows his style of talking. "He is the master of sarcasm and rarely means what he says. He should have realised that the BJP was waiting to pounce on him. The chairperson did not react immediately but the issue became big the next day when the BJP probably realised they could use the matter to their advantage," said a former SP MLA.
Other SP women leaders said some other parliamentarians had said worse things and had got away with it.
"Senior Congress leader and former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Digvijaya Singh had said in reference to Meenakshi Natarajan of his party that she was "sau taka tanch maal (100 per cent pure stuff)," they said.
Citing another example, they said BJP leader and Union Minister Giriraj Singh, another serial offender, had in 2015 said that if Rajiv Gandhi had married a Nigerian woman, and if she did not have fair skin, the Congress party would not have accepted her as its leader.
BJP MLA from Uttar Pradesh Surendra Singh has made innumerable remarks against women but has not even been served a warning.
Subhas Chakraborty, a former West Bengal minister, while taking a swipe at Mamta Banerjee''s ''Maa-Mati-Manush'' slogan, had said: "She is an infertile woman. What does she know about Maa?"
"Why is Azam Khan being targeted in this manner? Obviously, there is more to it than meets the eye," the SP women leaders said.