Amidst mounting condemnation for her party’s central and state governments, BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi on Friday addressed the media to clarify the saffron party’s stand on the two heinous crimes against women allegedly by the supporters and MLA of her party in Jammu and Kashmir and Uttar Pradesh respectively.
She spoke to media hours after thousands of people, led by Congress President Rahul Gandhi, held a candlelight vigil at the India Gate in Delhi. Contrary to expectations that Lekhi, herself a woman woman a Supreme Court lawyer, would condemn the role of her party’s two ministers, who had attended the rally taken out by Hindu Ekta Manch in support of the Kathua rapists. Instead, she put up an atrocious defence for Chandra Parkash Ganga and Lal Singh.
Lekhi said that two ministers were misled adding that ‘is it a crime to get misled. Don’t you the media get misled?’ This was in response to a reporter’s persistent questions on the role played by the two BJP ministers in defending the rapists of the 8-year-old child. What Lekhi failed to realise or she deliberately chose to ignore that Chandra Parkash Ganga and Lal Singh were two very senior cabinet members of the Mehbooba Mufti government.
They attended the Hindu Ekta Manch rally on 4 March, nearly two months after the 8-year-old child was brutalised. The widespread protests against the two ministers gained intensity earlier this week, more than a month after they attended the rally and made utterly despicable remarks. Lekhi must explain what took it so long for the two ministers to correct their mistakes if indeed they were misled. Why had they not sincerely apologised for their ‘mistakes’ even until Lekhi was holding the press conference.
In case Lekhi forgot or chose to ignore ‘facts,’ here are the comments two ministers had made while attending the rally by the Hindu Ekta Manch in supports of the rapists, who gang-raped the 8-year-old nomad girl inside a temple before killing her.
Chandra Parkash Ganga: “I don’t understand this investigation. Why they have arrested a 14-year-old, a 22-year-old, a 28-year-old and a 37-year-old. How is this possible?”
Chaudhary Lal Singh: “If you launch an agitation, do it with full force or sit at home. What’s this Section 144? This one girl has died and there is so much of investigation. There have been many deaths of women here. Police is not arresting people who chant anti-India slogans, who burn the tri-colour, but they have arrested people here. I want you to stay put on your resolve and I am with you. I support you for your demand of shifting this case to the CBI.”
Do these comments, widely reported by media, indicate that the two ministers were being misled? If anything, this smacks of their approval to what the Hindutva fanatics did to an 8-year-old child inside a place of worship. Lekhi, herself a woman, ought to tell us what does this statement by Lal Singh say, “This one girl has died and there is so much of investigation. There have been many deaths of women here.” Or what does this statement by Chandra Prakash Ganga mean, “Why they have arrested a 14-year-old, a 22-year-old, a 28-year-old and a 37-year-old. How is this possible?”
Doesn’t what Lal Singh said reminds us of a similar statement made by another BJP MLA in Uttar Pradesh that ‘it was impossible to rape a mother of three children.‘ BJP MLA Surendra Singh was speaking in defence of another saffron party MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar, who’s accused of raping a teenager in Unnao. The rape victim’s father had later died in police custody after being allegedly thrashed by Sengar’s brother and his supporters. Sengar could only be arrested by the CBI after the Allahabad High Court intervened.
Surely, one would have expected better response from Lekhi, who’s herself a woman. The lawyer-politician has considerably weakened her own claims that she and her party stood resolute in ensuring the dignity and safety of women. Her defence for the BJP ministers has also raised plenty of questions on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s statement terming the incidents of Kathua and Unnao ‘an insult to all those who’ve sacrificed their lives for the country.’
Breaking his silence on Friday, Modi had said, “Incidents being discussed for the last two days don’t suit a civilised society. As a country, as a society we all are ashamed of it. This is also an insult to all those who’ve sacrificed their lives for the country. Such incidents happening in any parts of India shake our conscience. I would like to assure the countrymen that those guilty of tormenting our daughters will not be spared.”
Also, if the two BJP ministers from Jammu and Kashmir were merely being misled, then where was the need to sack them from the cabinet?
In conclusion not only did Lekhi let herself down as a woman, but she has also caused considerably damage to the collective reputation of her party and PM Modi on their much-touted claims that they cared about women’s safety.