Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Jun 5: 

The Women’s Wing of Odisha’s Biju Janata Dal today staged a demonstration in front of Raj Bhavan demanding an apology from BJP Secretary Lekhasri Samantsinghar over the Odisha sex worker comment she made yesterday.

Lekhasri Samantsinghar BJP

“The comment Lekhasri made yesterday during a Kanak News debate is extremely derogatory towards the women of the state. Odia women are hard working and prefer a dignified life. They would rather starve themselves to death than indulge themselves in flesh trade,” said BJD Women’s Wing President Pramila Mallick.

“Can Lekhasri provide any proof of her claim? Even if she has any, she could raise it in the appropriate forum. It is wrong to generalise all Odia women in this manner. Her statement is in poor taste, irresponsible and uncalled for. We demand an apology,” she added.

Reacting to the development, Lekhasri expressed regret, however, refused to apologise.

“I express regret, if I have hurt anyone because of the comment. However, I would not apologise. I would also like to point out that I was not allowed to complete my sentence by BJD leaders during the debate that led to the misinterpretation. In a panel, where I was the only woman, three BJD leaders stood up from their seats and started shouting at me even before I could complete the sentence. This shows how respectful BJD leaders are towards women,” said Lekhasri.

Notably, participating in a debate yesterday, Lekhasri had said that many Odia families are migrating to other states out of poverty and women are engaging in flesh trade to earn their living.

The statement drew sharp reaction from BJD leaders: Sashi Bhusan Behera, Samir Dash and Subash Singh who were participants of BJD in the show. It was also immediately denounced by senior BJP leader Pratap Sarangi, who was a representative of BJP in the show along with Lekhasri and Samir Mohanty.