Uttar Pradesh is experiencing a multi-cornered fight in the ongoing assembly elections. Both the BJP and BSP have thrown all their might to wrest power from the ruling Samajwadi Party, which is seeking re-election in alliance with the Congress Party.
On Sunday, the third phase of election was conducted covering 12 districts including the state capital Lucknow.
Notable among the star campaigners for the SP are the incumbent chief minister, Akhilesh Yadav and his MP wife, Dimple Yadav.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on several occasions has raised the issue of what he said was deteriorating law and order situation in the state.
On Sunday, when Akhilesh and his wife made themselves available for a media interview with Aaj Tak channel, they were once again grilled by reporter Rahul Kanwal on the issue of women safety.
While Akhilesh gave example of Delhi, which, according to the couple, had become notorious for alarming rise in rapes, his wife Dimple decided to go jugular at the reporter by reminding how his channel was silent on the gruesome gangrapes in Gujarat, where accused have been the BJP functionaries.
In fact, Dimple’s response took even the channel’s reporter by surprise as he did not envisage an otherwise polite Dimple to pose such penetrating questions.
This is how the conversation went on;
Dimple: You tell me, the Kutch incident (gangrapes). Did you guys publicise it?
Reporter: Absolutely!..Everybody did, we also showed Una incident.
Dimple: No you didn’t! I am not talking about Una. I am talking to you about Kutch, where BJP leader along with seven other leaders ..
Dimple: Now you are not listening to me. Don’t be biased. I’m trying to put my point to you right here…In Kutch, 30-35 women were in the captive of BJP leaders. How much coverage did you give to that incident, you tell me now? What prime time space did you allocate to that coverage?
Indian media, particularly TV channels, have often faced criticism for biases in favour of the BJP while covering important news stories. Post May 2014, when Modi became India’s prime minister, channels have had to face plenty of accusations of having mortgaged their freedom to the ruling party for either the fear of reprisals or economic sanctions.
The incident of Gujarat gangrape had come to light after eight persons including local leaders of BJP were arrested in connection with the gangrape of the victim at Naliya town in Kutch district.
In her FIR, the 24-year-old woman alleged that she was raped by at least nine persons on different occasions after an accused made a video of the act and threatened to circulate the video clip.
The victim has alleged in her FIR that the accused have been running a sex racket in Kutch district and forcing victims to have sex with numerous persons after blackmailing them by making video.
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has demanded investigation into the Naliya sex racket case by a Special Investigation Team (SIT) headed by a sitting High Court judge and threatened to launch state-wide agitation on the issue.