Modi attacked for malnutrition remark


New Delhi : Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi Thursday drew flak for his “flippant” remark that malnutrition in his state was due to women, especially young girls, becoming “more beauty conscious” and watching their weight.

Support TwoCircles

The Congress asked him to withdraw the statement, terming it an insult to the women of Gujarat.

Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni termed Modi’s remark to the Wall Street Journal as “flippant”.

“It is the women who sacrifice food in order that their families can eat. And today he is saying that they are doing it for the sake of fashion. The women of Gujarat should protest against him,” she said.

Modi, while explaining the state’s high child malnutrition and maternal mortality in an interview to the newspaper, said: “Gujarat is by and large a vegetarian state. And secondly, Gujarat is also a middle-class state. The middle-class is more beauty conscious than health conscious – that is a challenge. If a mother tells her daughter to have milk, they’ll have a fight. She’ll tell her mother, ‘I won’t drink milk. I’ll get fat’.”

Congress leader Girija Vyas said that Modi has been “in denial mode” that malnutrition exists in his state.

“Malnutrition is a huge problem in Gujarat. He should take back his comment.”

State Congress president Arjun Modvadia said Gujarat was spending “very little” on health.

“What he (Modi) has said is a joke on women and an insult to them. He should apologise to the women of Gujarat and focus on the health of women and children.”

Gujarat has a very high child and maternal mortality, Modvadia said, adding that Modi, despite ruling the state for so many years, “was blaming women for malnutrition, which was a mockery of women of the state”.

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajiv Shukla termed Modi’s statement “shameful” and said it should be criticised “in the strongest terms”.

“In Gujarat, the children in villages have very poor nutritional levels. He is obviously not concerned about the nutrition of people in the villages.”

BJP leader Prakash Javadekar brushed aside the criticism of his party’s chief minister, saying the Congress suffers from a “Modi-phobia” and “each time they hear the name of Narendra Modi, they attack him”.