Bihar leader Jitan Ram Manjhi on Saturday defended Samajwadi party leader Azam Khan, whose sexist remarks in parliament against Lok Sabha deputy speaker Rama Devi had evoked outrage. Azam Khan's remark, he said, is being misinterpreted. "So he should apologize but not resign," said Jitan Ram Manjhi.
He even blockquoted some incongruous examples to defend Azam Khan's remarks. "When brother-sister meet, they kiss, is it equal to sex? Mother kisses son, son kisses mother, is it sex?" said Jitan Ram Manjhi, who after quitting Nitish Kumar's Janata Dal United, has been leading his own political party, the Hindustan Awam Morcha.
The Samajwadi Party lawmaker's sexist remarks - made during Thursday's debate on a bill to ban Triple Talaq - were so offensive that he was being criticised and everybody in the house had condemned his comments amid shouts of "shame".
Azam Khan has not apologised, indicating that his words have been misinterpreted. "Sister, I have had a long political career, it is not possible for me to say anything bad. If there is a single unparliamentary word in what I said, then I declare my resignation from parliament," he said.
Rama Devi has said she would "never forgive" Azam Khan, even if he apologises for his remarks. Azam Khan, she said, had insulted the chair twice - once by making the comment and second by not apologising instantly.
"Every man has a mother, sister, daughter and wife. Azam Khan's remark is going to hurt not only women but also the dignity of men," she said.