NEW DELHI: Rahul Gandhi‘s flying kiss, directed at the treasury benches in response to being heckled for accusing the government of destroying ‘Bharat Mata’ in Manipur during the no-confidence debate on Wednesday, triggered allegations of “misogyny” from Union minister Smriti Irani and complaints of “inappropriate behaviour” from a clutch of women BJP MPs, which led to a strident defence of his controversial actions from Congress members.

Rahul’s cheeky response to the booing came after he concluded his 37-minute intervention and was preparing to leave. With Irani, who defeated the Congress leader in his stronghold of Amethi in 2019 polls, scheduled to speak next, some ruling party MPs accused Rahul of “running away”. The Congress MP, who was slated to address a rally in Rajasthan, then turned around, smiled, blew a kiss in the general direction of the treasury benches, and left.
Irani did not refer to the unusual gesture immediately, but remembered to bring it up as she concluded her speech.

Referring to him as a “misogynistic man”, Irani alleged that Rahul’s flying kiss to the House that comprised women members was a reflection on his “parentage and upbringing”.
Outside the House, Irani repeated her allegations.
“Never before has the misogynistic behaviour of a man been so visible in Parliament as what was done by Rahul Gandhi today. When the House of the People, where laws are made to protect the dignity of women, during the course of a session stands witness to a man’s misogyny, my question is should he be brought to task?” she said.
After Irani’s intervention, Union minister and BJP MP Shobha Karandlaje also led a delegation of over 20 women MPs of BJP to Speaker Om Birla to lodge a formal complaint against Rahul’s “indecent” behaviour, demanding “stringent action”.
In a complaint, also signed by Darshana Jardosh, it was alleged that Gandhi behaved in an “indecent manner” which not only “insulted the dignity of women members in the House, but also brought disrepute and lowered the dignity of this august House”.
Karandlaje added, “After giving a flying kiss to all women members, Rahul Gandhi went away. This is total misbehaviour… inappropriate and indecent. Senior members are saying this has never happened in the history of Parliament… What is this behaviour? What kind of leader is he? That is why, we have complained to the Speaker to take CCTV footage of it and take action against him.”
Congress, however, jumped to Rahul’s defence. While Congress MP Geeta Koda said BJP raised the “bogey” because it did not want to talk about Manipur, she added that the Congress leader “can never insult women”.
Shiv Sena (Uddhav Thackeray) MP Priyanka Chaturvedi also sought to defend Gandhi. “I was at the visitors’ gallery and he (Rahul Gandhi) did it as a gesture of affection. They (BJP) can’t accept love,” she said.

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