Khap panchayats are retrograde, can't be part of culture: FM

In a veiled attack on Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal for his defence of khap panchayats, Finance Minister P Chidambaram today described them as retrograde organisations which cannot be part of India's culture.

"What is a khap panchayat? A khap panchayat is a retrograde organisation. It is not part of India's culture and I am appalled to see somebody say it's part of India's culture. How can it be part of India's culture?," he said while addressing students of Shri Ram College of Commerce (SRCC) here.

His comments come against the backdrop of Kejriwal, who had in a recent interview, said he does not see the need for banning khap panchayats or unelected all-male village councils because they serve a "cultural purpose."

Attacking Kejriwal's Aam Admi Party (AAP) for defending khap panchayats, Chidambaram said, "(it's) rubbish. Must have the courage to stand up and say these retrograde practices are not part of India's culture...These are simply (organisations of) self serving individuals who propagate this poisonous culture".

"How can you tell a boy or a girl what you should wear and what you should not wear, who you should marry, who you should not marry.

"Each one knows what the rules of normal behaviour are and each one will adopt those rules of normal behaviour. I can't go and argue a case in a court wearing a swim suit. I know if I have to go to a court, I have to dress like a lawyer. But I can't go to a swimming pool wearing my lawyer's robe...

"I think people know what they are expected to do...Who is this khap panchayat to tell do this or do that," the Finance Minister said.

He further said likewise, there are many forces in the country which spread 'poison', sow seeds of distrust and differences and call this part of India's culture.

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