‘Showman’ minister, never rebuked until Laxman rekha

The day after he advised women not to cross the Laxman rekha lest they be abducted by a Ravana, Kailash Vijayvargiya was literally worshipping them. "Respecting women is our duty, the society can find a balance only by worshipping them," he said, while sticking to the position he had taken.

MP's industry minister, 56, is not one to miss out on opportunities for such symbolism, especially when they allow him to make what he calls a larger point. When told by the BJP to withdraw his comments, he said he was taking back only the part aired by channels, not the import of his speech.

Often described by the Congress as a showman, the legislator from Mhow was not so long ago perceived to be the number two in the government, a threat to Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan. Corruption scandals and allegations over the years have taken a toll on his stature since, yet he keeps up the go-getter, jovial profile that has earned him many followers.

Reflecting on his ebbing influence against Chouhan's rising stock, he once compared himself with the Thakur's character in Sholay to convey his sense of helplessness. He later claimed the comment was made in a lighter vein but the opposition milked it to to fuel stories of growing distrust between Chouhan and Vijayvargiya.

In the three decades he has been with the BJP, he was never publicly rebuked as he was for the Laxman rekha comment that coincided with RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat's remark on the urban-rural divide in matters of rape.

He has made outrageous statements in the past, too. After the Guwahati molestation, he advised women to "dress to earn respect, not arouse sexual excitement". He has targeted Crezendo, a vibrating condom that he described as an assault on Indian values, campaigned for replacing convocation dresses with dhoti kurta, and spoken against indecent television advertisements and double entendre in dialogues.

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