“He (Omar) is the CM. He should not have said something like this. We have come to participate in the process of welfare of the people, not for make-up kits. It (Omar’s remark) is derogatory. We would still come to vote,” said Ayesha Begum, panch of Juhama in Langate, on the eve of election to four panchayat quota seats in the legislative council.
Addressing a rally on Saturday at his constituency, Ganderbal, Omar targeted Opposition leader Mehbooba Mufti. “It is you who is serving wazwan everywhere, handing out money in envelopes, and distributing bags to women panchayat members. These bags contain scissors, nail-cutters and other make-up accessories. On the one hand, you observe purdah and on the other, give our women make-up kits to beautify themselves. If you want to give them something, give them pen and paper,” Omar said.
His remarks drew sharp reaction from the PDP. “It’s unfortunate that the head of the state government has lost his sense of propriety as a result of the panic that has struck him in his pursuit to win a few council seats for the ruling coalition. Omar Abdullah’s reference to woman being bribed with make-up kits and his attempt to cast aspersion on our sisters’ and mothers’ integrity has a method to it. It seems that through such statements the NC intends to discourage women from being empowered and assigned the much deserved political space,” said PDP’s chief spokesperson Naeem Akhtar.
Some women panchs in Omar’s constituency took to streets terming his remark an “insult” and stating that they were wise enough to know whom to support. The controversy has, meanwhile, reached cyber space. A Facebook post read: “Omar to Mehbooba: Mere paas twitter hai, tablet hai, smartphone hai, police hai, curfew hai, Rahulji hai, Soniaji hai, Soz hai, Azad hai aur Chaman Lal Gupta bhi ab hai, tere paas kya hai? Make-up kit hai bacha, lo ge kya?”