Khushbu Sundar, a BJP leader and member of the National Commission for Women (NCW), caused a sensation on Tuesday when he referred to the Tamil Nadu government’s program of providing Rs 1,000 per month to women heads of households as a “pitchai” (alms).

Sundar declared that women will not vote for the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) party if they are offered Rs 1,000 as “alms” in protest against the drug problem and the arrest of Tamil film producer Jaffar Sadiq in connection with a cocaine bust worth Rs 2,000 crore.

The DMK’s women’s branch protested against Sundar around the state in response to the remarks.

In response to the criticism, Sundar used X to defend her remarks. She claimed that in order for the DMK to remain prominent, she needed to keep the drug problem under control.

The actor-politician said in a post on X that no one had denounced the 1982 remarks made by former union minister Murasoli Maran, who claimed that the free meals given to the impoverished by then-Chief Minister MG Ramachandran were akin to “pitchai” (alms). She also gave instances of offensive statements made by DMK leaders like K Ponmudi and EV Velu against women and the state’s populace.

“Back then, were you all deaf, silent, and blind? All I want is that you end the drug menace and stop receiving commissions from Tasmac. Assist our women in saving the money that the working clan spent at Tasmac. They suffer far more suffering from intoxicated males than they do from your money. They won’t require your Rs 1,000 if you help them become independent,” she wrote in her X post.

Geetha Jeevan, the minister for social welfare and women’s empowerment in Tamil Nadu, responded to Sundar’s remarks by saying, “Actor Khushbu has spoken in a derogatory manner, calling the Kalaignar Magalir Urimai Thittam as ‘pitchai.'” 1.16 crore women who are receiving benefits from this system have been insulted by her.“

This is incredibly agonising and demonstrates her ignorance of the trauma endured by women. Are you aware of the benefits this Rs 1,000 has for women? You walk out of your house, grab a microphone, and say anything you want without knowing anything. “I abhor this,” Jeevan continued.