A video showing author and philanthropist Sudha Murthy bowing before the leader of a right-wing outfit in Maharashtra has gone viral, evoking sharp reactions.
Sambhaji Bhide, whose feet the wife of Infosys co-founder Narayan Murthy is seen touching in the video, was recently served a notice by the State Women’s Commission for refusing to talk to a woman journalist because she had no ‘bindi’ on her forehead.
Mr Bhide had asked the woman journalist to apply ‘bindi’ before speaking to him and not be “like a widow” by not applying the coloured dot/sticker on the centre of the forehead.
— Sudha_murthy (@sudhamurty) November 8, 2022
The viral video is from Sangli in western Maharashtra, where Sudha Murthy was on Monday to interact with her readers at a promotional event of her books, many of which have been translated into Marathi.
A functionary of Mr Bhide’s Shiv Pratishthan outfit said his leader met Sudha Murthy for help in installation of a golden throne at Raigad fort, the erstwhile capital of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.
However, an aide to Sudha Murthy, mother-in-law of UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, said the author wasn’t aware who Bhide was and had bowed to him out of respect for a senior citizen.
Yojana Yadav, editorial head at Mehta Publishing House – which organized the Sangli event – claimed local police insisted that Bhide should be allowed to meet Sudha Murthy, despite not being invited for the event.
“Sudha Murthy had refused to meet anyone but Bhide’s supporters arrived at the event without any invitation. With the presence of a large number of Bhide’s supporters outside the auditorium, the local police came under pressure and requested us to let Bhide met Murthy, who was then interacting with the readers,” Ms Yadav told PTI.
“The pressure was so much that a visibly annoyed Sudha Murthy had to discontinue her interaction with her readers and went out to meet Bhide. She was not aware who Bhide was, so she asked me his age. She bowed before him out of respect accorded to elders,” she said.
“She later told me that Bhide wanted to speak to her for one and a half hours but she told him that she did not have more than one and a half minute for him,” Ms Yadav said.
Ms Yadav also said that she later cautioned Sudha Murthy that the visual of that meeting with Bhide could be used for propaganda.
Reacting to the meeting, senior journalist Nikhil Wagle tweeted, “What was achieved by touching the feet of such a meeting such a notorious person?”
Aam Aadmi Party national executive member Preeti Sharma Menon tweeted, “Trust she wore a bindi. When people like Sudha Murthy meet bigots like Bhide, they reveal their true colours.” Social activist Vishwambhar Choudhari tweeted,” There is something messed up with us, or else Sudha Murthy would not have buckled under pressure to meet Bhide, leave aside touching his feet.”
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
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