Right-wing leader Sambhaji Bhide’s meeting with Chief Minister Eknath Shinde in Mantralaya on Wednesday turned controversial after the Maharashtra State Women’s Commission served him a notice demanding an explanation over his comment on a woman journalist.
Known for his controversial statements, a video during Bhide’s visit to Mantralaya on Wednesday went viral on social media. In the video, Bhide is seen telling a news channel’s woman journalist to apply ‘bindi’ on her forehead before coming to take his byte and refusing to speak to her. He went on to say that a woman is like ‘Bharat Mata’ and “she should not be like a widow by not applying bindi”.
Maharashtra State Women’s Commission president Rupali Chakankar, in her notice to Bhide, said, “You refused to talk to a woman journalist because she had no bindi on her forehead. A woman is known by the quality of her work. Your statement is demeaning to a woman’s pride and her social stature.”
Chakankar said that the commission was taking note of his statement as it has led to angry comments from across the society.
“Under Section 12(2) and 12(3) of the State Women’s Commission Act, 1993, you are hereby asked to explain your position of not speaking with a woman journalist because she was not wearing a bindi,” it said.
The journalist later tweeted that whether to apply bindi or not was her choice. “It is my right to decide as to whether to apply bindi or not and when to apply it. We live in a democratic country,” she tweeted, adding that one tends to respect a person due to his old age. “But that person should also be qualified for the same,” she tweeted further.
Bhide, popularly known as ‘Guruji’, came into national spotlight after the then Gujarat Chief Minister and BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi in January 2014 visited Sangli to meet him. He has courted controversy in the past as well, when he claimed that couples were blessed with sons after eating mangoes from his farm.
In 2019, when the MVA was shaping up, Bhide had gone to Matoshri in a bid to stop Uddhav Thackeray from snapping ties with the BJP. He was denied entry and had to return.
Bhide, now in his 80s, was a full-time RSS pracharak before he formed his own outfit Shri Shivpratishthan Hindustan. He was booked, but never arrested, in the Koregaon-Bhima violence and the police later said that it found no evidence against him.
When asked about his meeting with Shinde, Bhide said that he was happy over the functioning of the state government and the meeting was only to extend goodwill. “I met him to wish him good and nothing else. I will continue meeting him,” according to Bhide.