A clip of Congress youth leader Srinivas BV’s speech during a public rally is viral on social media. In the clip, Srinivas can be heard saying, “Smriti Irani thora gunge behri ho gaya hai, main unko kehna chahta hu — usi dayaan ko, mehengaayi dayaan ko darling banake bedroom mein baithane ka kaam kiya hai”.

Amit Malviya, the national in-charge pf BJP’s information & technology department, tweeted the clip and wrote, “This uncouth, sexist man is President of the Indian Youth Congress”. He insinuated that Srinivas BV made the “डार्लिंग बना कर बेडरूम में” jab at Smriti Irani due to her win against Rahul Gandhi from Amethi. (Archive)

BJP Karnataka also tweeted the clip and deplored the ‘vile attack on Smriti Irani by criminal Rahul Gandhi’s sidekick Srinivas BV’. In addition, they remarked that INC was unable to digest the humiliating defeat Smriti Irani had inflicted on Rahul Gandhi in Amethi and that INC had become a cesspit of misogyny & perversion. (Archive)

The national president of BJP Yuva Morcha, Tejaswi Surya, quote-tweeted the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha and wrote that the comments by Srinivas BV were deplorable and sexist. He called for a condemnation of this speech from Priyanka Gandhi.

BJP National Spokesperson Shehzad Poonawalla, too, tweeted the clip saying Congress had become a cesspool of misogynists. (Archive)

Several other users, some of them Twitter Blue subscribers and verified handles tweeted or quote-tweeted the clip and called out Srinivas for his comments. Among them are Priti Gandhi, @MrSinha_, Sameet Thakkar, Know The Nation and Anil K Antony.

During his primetime debate on News18 India, anchor Amish Devgan can be heard slamming Srinivas’s comments saying, “Itni kharap tippani…ek mahila ki bedroom tak jana!’ (Such a crass comment.. to go into the bedroom of a woman minister!).

Right Wing propaganda outlet OpIndia published an article titled ‘Frustrated Congressis target Smriti Irani again with sexual innuendos, the Amethi loss of now disqualified MP Rahul Gandhi still hurts’.

Fact Check

After the video caused widespread outrage from the BJP workers, Srinivas BV tweeted a longer clip from his speech. We have transcribed the clip below.

BJP hain toh berozgari. Jo mahangai, aam gareeb majdur log ghar mein kaise jee rahe hai aaplog soche kya? Kabhi nahi socha hai inlog ne. BJP hain toh mahangai, har cheez mein mahangai. Yahi log 2014 mein kehte the, mahangai ko dayaan banake baitha diya hai (inaudible). Toh Smriti Irani thora gunge behre ho gayi hai, main unko kehna chahta hu — usi dayaan ko, mahangai dayaan ko, darling banake bedroom mein baithane ka kaam kiya hai.

It is evident from the longer clip that Srinivas BV did not refer to Smriti Irani as a witch (dayan), contrary to claims made by some users. The BJP politicians used a clipped video without providing the proper context for their followers. Mahangai Dayaan is a reference to a song by the same name from the movie Peepli Live (2010). The song tries to draw attention towards the major socio-economic problem of price rise.

This song has been often used in political rhetoric during election campaigns, dating back to 2012 when former minister of external affairs the late Sushma Swaraj hummed it during an election meeting in Ajitmal.

Srinivas BV has used the same political rhetoric. He questioned the BJP government’s inability to impede the rise in prices. He further stated that the same BJP that used the song ‘Mahangai Dayan’ to portray the rising prices in the country pre-2014, has stopped caring about the people who are most affected by inflation. He adds, “it’s like the BJP has ushered inflation into its bedroom and has made it their darling”. While it is true that he targeted Smriti Irani by saying that she was deaf to the demands of the poor, he clearly used the aforementioned statement as a metaphor.

In a statement to ANI, Srinivas BV can be heard defending his statement saying, “Smriti Irani had said the same thing during Manmohan Singh’s Prime Ministry. When the price of a gas cylinder was Rs 400, she used to talk about ‘mehangayi daayan’ & now the price has reached Rs 1100 & that ‘daayan’ has now become darling. This is what I said before. What is wrong in this?”.

Seemingly referring to the “deaf and dumb” rhetoric, Srinivas BV said to India Today, “You used to roam the streets carrying a cylinder. After you became a minister, so many girls and women were tortured, have you ever spoken about it? Women were burnt and so many houses were bulldozed in Uttar Pradesh, did you say anything? You jumped into a silly issue, did a press meet. You humiliated Sonia Gandhi in the Parliament using derogatory words, wasn’t that humiliation? All of these people are the same — they all want to save Adani. Every three days they are changing their statements…”

Acting president of Mahila Congress Netta D’Souza tweeted a fact check of the viral clip wherein the viral clip is juxtaposed with the longer clip tweeted by Srinivas BV. This was also retweeted by the official handle of the Indian Youth Congress.

To sum up, a clipped video of Srinivas BV’s speech was shared on the social media by BJP leaders and other users to claim that the Congress youth leader had attacked Union minister Smriti Irani using misogynist terms. In reality, Srinivas made a reference to the ‘Mahangai Dayan’ phrase that has been used in political rhetoric in the past as well. Criticizing price rise and inflation, he said that that dayan (mahangai) had now become a ‘darling’. He did slam Smriti Irani for not raising her voice against various issues, and in the process, remarked that she had become ‘deaf and dumb’.

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About the Author

Student of Economics at Presidency University. Interested in misinformation.