On February 9, Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra lost her cool when Abhishek Upadhyay, a journalist with TV9 Bharatvarsh, questioned her why she was promoting bikini in schools. The incident took place when Gandhi was addressing the media after launching Congress’s manifesto for Uttar Pradesh. A journalist questioned her about the tweet that she posted in the morning over the hijab controversy in educational institutions. Gandhi was visibly angry with the question and tried to intimidate the journalist. She also tried to make it an issue ‘choice of women’ and while the actual issue is uniform in educational institutions.
“प्रियंका जी, स्कूल में बिकनी कहां से आ गयी? हिजाब का मसला तो शैक्षिक संस्थान के संदर्भ में था।”— abhishek upadhyay (@upadhyayabhii) February 9, 2022
लखनऊ की प्रेस कॉन्फ्रेंस में मेरे इस सवाल पर यूं भड़क गईं प्रियंका गांधी।
फिर तो लगातार
मेरे सवाल pic.twitter.com/oa8FYDwpDB
During the press conference, Upadhyay asked, “You are saying the elections should be fought on the topic of development, but the tweet you posted in the morning changed the topic from development to hijab in School.” The journalist’s argument did not go well with Gandhi. She said, “Did I start the discussion on hijab? It is the right of every woman. She can wear a bikini, hijab, ghoonghat, saree or jeans. There is no politics in that,” reiterating what she had tweeted earlier in the day.
As Priyanka Gandhi tried to suggest it is a general issue of what women can wear and not uniform in schools and colleges, Upadhyay questioned her back, “But how bikini is relevant to school? It was about the educational institutions.”
Caught red-handed diverting the topic Gandhi tried to intimidate the journalist and said, “You can twist it the way you like. No one has the right to tell a woman what she can wear and what she can’t. I am telling you to remove the scarf. Remove the scarf.” The journalist said he was not in an educational institution but in a press conference, to which Gandhi said, “It does not matter where you are. Do I have the right to tell you what to wear?”
After that, she ended the discussion and moved to the next question.
Priyanka Gandhi’s tweet on hijab controversy
On Wednesday morning, Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi posted a tweet in which she said women have the right to wear whatever she wants. The tweet was linked to the hijab controversy that has been happening in Karnataka, where a few Muslim girls demanded they should be allowed to wear hijab in classrooms.
Gandhi said in her tweet, “Whether it is a bikini, a ghoonghat, a pair of jeans or a hijab, it is a woman’s right to decide what she wants to wear. This right is GUARANTEED by the Indian constitution. Stop harassing women.”
There were two major problems with the tweet. The first problem is the inclusion of bikini as the controversy was about an educational institute and not with the dresses that women can wear in general. Secondly, she forgot to consider the fact that the majority of the educational institutions in India, especially schools, have a specific dress code that every student has to follow.
The Karnataka hijab row
A couple of weeks back, a few Muslim girl students from Udupi, Karnataka, started wearing hijab to school. When the administration asked them to remove the hijab, they demanded as it was part of their religious practices, it should be allowed. To mark their protest, Hindu students came to school wearing saffron scarves.
The Education Ministry of the state intervened and issued an order that all students must follow the dress code. The Muslim students filed a petition in the Karnataka High Court challenging the order. Meanwhile, the situation got violent, and there were reports of stone pelting on Tuesday. The state government shut down schools and colleges for three days and asked everyone to maintain peace.
The controversy is being minted by the left-liberal section and fundamentalists who are provoking the Muslim girls not only in the college where controversy erupted but also in other educational institutes to demand permission to attend classes while donning the hijab.