New Delhi: A little more than a week after his “internet in the Mahabharata era” remark made national headlines, Tripura chief minister Biplab Kumar Deb on Thursday claimed that international beauty pageants were a farce and questioned the rationale behind crowning Diana Hayden “Miss World” 21 years ago.
The BJP leader, however, was all praise for Aishwarya Rai, who won the Miss World crown in 1994, saying she “represents the Indian women” in the true sense.
“Indian women did not use cosmetics in the old times. Indians did not use shampoo, they washed their hair with methi water and bathed with mud. These beauty pageant organisers are international marketing mafia, who spotted a huge market in the country. Today, there is a beauty parlour in every corner of the country,” he said.
Deb’s comments came days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked BJP leaders to steer clear of controversy and not offer “masala” to the media by making irresponsible statements.
The Tripura chief minister also claimed that international beauty contests were a farce as the results were all predetermined.
“Whoever contested the international beauty pageants won. For five consecutive years, we won the Miss World/Miss Universe awards. Diana Hayden won it too. Do you think she should have won the title?” Deb said.
Addressing a day-long design workshop on handlooms and handicrafts at the Prajna Bhavan in Agartala, Deb spoke in a mixture of Bengali and Hindi: “Bitorko ho jayega…Aap kya bolte ho Biplab Deb? (There will be a controversy. What are you saying Biplab Deb?)”
“They make the girls walk with fabric on the ramps. Those who give the certificates are all international textile market mafia. They plan beforehand who will get the award and this is 100% true,” the BJP leader said.
He said he failed to understand the “process of judgement” of the crowning of the Miss World contest in 1997, in which Diana Hayden had got the award.
“We see women as goddess Laxmi, Saraswati. Aishwarya Rai represents the Indian women. She became the Miss World and that’s all right. But I do not understand the beauty of Diana Hayden,” Deb, who became the chief minister last month, said.
“Why are there no more beauty pageant winners from India? They (the jury) have captured the market in the country and have gone elsewhere,” he claimed.
Unsurprisingly, Deb was both criticised and ridiculed for his comments on how an Indian woman “should” look.
Activist Kavita Krishnan termed his comments as “stupid, sexist and communal”.
“If Biplab Deb didn’t exist, a comic writer would have invented him,” columnist Salil Tripathi tweeted.
Advisor to the Delhi chief minister Nagendar Sharma in a tweet said, “Though we are still in April, this most likely could qualify for the most ridiculous quote of 2018.”
A senior journalist tweeted, “One reason for which I should cheer the verdict in Tripura is that the nation found a new entertainer.”
Earlier this month, Deb had claimed that internet and satellite communication existed in the days of Mahabharata. “It is this country where communication was possible because we then had technology, Internet was there; so was the satellite communication system. It is not that internet and media wasn’t available in the age of Mahabharata.”
Deb has a long list of gaffes to his name. For instance, stating that the Chabimura rock carvings by the Gomti river in the state were “better” than Amazon, he reportedly said, “Under our government, the Chabimura tourist spot will become like the Amazon river basin of Africa.” In the run-up to the last assembly elections, Deb, then the state BJP chief, said at a rally in Khowai district that any vote cast in the EVMs for the CPI(M), even by the chief minister Manik Sarkar, would go to the BJP.
(With PTI inputs)