Kolkata/New Delhi, Dec 27 (IANS) Dragging the the nation's first citizen into a controversy by terming "highly dented-painted" the women participating in the Delhi mass protests after the Dec 16 gang-rape, President Pranab Mukherjee's son and Congress MP Abhijit issued an unconditional apology Thursday after facing flak from family, partymen, social media and civil society.
In a tight spot, Abhijit apologised and withdrew the comments.
"I regret the comments I have made. I apologise unconditionally. I withdraw the comments. They were not meant to hurt anybody. But still if anybody has felt hurt, I am sorry".
Speaking to a regional television channel in his earlier assembly constituency Nalhati in West Bengal's Birbhum district on Christmas, Abhijit Mukherjee had said: ""What's basically happening in Delhi is somewhat like Egypt or elsewhere, where there was something called the Spring Revolution, which has very little connection with ground realities.
"In India, staging candle-light marches, going to discotheques - we did all this during our student life too, we were students too - I know very well what kind of character students should have."
"Those who claim to be students - I can see many beautiful women among them, they were highly dented-painted - they're giving interviews on TV, they've brought their children to show them the scenes.
"It's fashionable to attend protest marches now.
"I have grave doubts whether they're students because women of that age are generally not students," said Abhijit, who was elected MP from Jangipur Lok Sabha seat in Murshidabad recently to fill up the vacancy caused by his father's elevation to the presidency.
Abhijit's comments soon became viral on the net, and criticism flew thick and fast, embarrassing the nation's first family no end.
Social online media like Facebook and Twitter Thursday went hammer and tongs at Abhijit for his sexist comments.
While some cried "shame" angrily condemning the Congress Lok Sabha member for the "insensitive' comments, others called for stripping him off the MPship and his "re-education".
Journalist-turned-filmmaker Utpal Borpujari was scathing.
"The demeaning comments against women have come from politicians across party lines and gender at different times, and Abhijeet Mukherjee is only the latest to join the list. Shame on this insensitive class," said Borpujari in a Facebook post.
Another scribe Nabeel Khan called the comments "filthy" on Facebook.
Even Congress leader Om Prakash Mishra called the comments "deplorable", though he pointed out that Mukherjee has "expressed regret and apologised".
Facebooker Sanjukta Chakraborty said: If HE cannot show respect to a woman does he deserve to be a people's representative ? He should be stripped off his MPship ."
On twitter, Farhan Akhtar graded the comments as "all time low".
Retired supercop Kiran Bedi twitted that Mukherjee needs "-re-education".
There were also demonstrations in the national capital, with women protestors decrying the comments. "It is my body, my right to wear whatever dress I choose. Don't lecture us," said a young woman.
Sensing the public mood, Abhijit's sister Sarmishtha stepped in to undo the damage. "I am quite surprised and disappointed with what my brother saida it shows a certain degree of insensitivity. I apologise on his behalf," said the danseuse, asking him to apologise.
"I express my utter shock and anguish. I really apologise to every women, man and every sensitive person in this country".
She also said her father would disagree with Abhijit's view.
There was large-scale outrage in the capital in the aftermath of the rape as protestors, mainly students, gathered in large numbers to express their anguish. Some of the protestors even took to violence and there were clashes between them and the policemen.