BJP leaders on Kathua gangrape: It is the entire nation's shame, not BJP's alone
The firestorm has singed the ruling party, which is now putting up a wall of defence, but it is evident that for PM Narendra Modi, who said, Justice will be done for the daughters of the nation
Protestors during the demonstration at Azad Maidan last week. File pic
Mumbai's outrage and angst over the Kathua and Unnao rape cases found expression in public protests like the rest of the country; and it continues to set social media on fire. The firestorm has singed the ruling party, which is now putting up a wall of defence, but it is evident that for PM Narendra Modi, who said, "Justice will be done for the daughters of the nation", after the heat intensified, it may be a question of too little, too late. Ameet Mehta, president, BJP Mumbai legal cell, said, "It is not a question of too little too late. The government wanted to ascertain the complete truth before taking action."
When asked if this was a great shame for his party, considering that it was being seen as complicit (a BJP MLA directly accused in Unnao and the state machinery seen failing in Kathua, with lawmakers and the police involved), Mehta added, "It is a shame for the nation, not just BJP alone. It is immaterial who is in power. A government in power does not instigate or create a special atmosphere of lawlessness. "This government has more resolution to bring such culprits to book and punish them."
Walking the talk?
For BJP spokesperson, Mumbai's Shaina NC, "The outrage and anger is completely justified, but we should not make this into a party issue. It is an issue that concerns the safety of our children." Yet, when reminded that it is a party issue, considering that there are rape allegations against a BJP MLA in the Unnao case and two BJP ministers were seen at a rally protecting the accused in the Kathua case, she said, "The MLA has been arrested and the ministers who were supposedly shielding the accused have resigned. Policemen in the Kathua case have been arrested. This proves that we, the BJP, have walked the talk. If we had not acted, it would have been very, very serious."
Beti vs beta
Asked about how BJP's feel-good slogan 'Beti bachao, beti padhao' is hollow today and rightly mocked by the people, Shaina said, "We should have another slogan: 'Bete ko sikhao, bete ko suljhao'. The only thing [that matters] is justice for the victim, a fast-track court that can resolve the matter within six months.
"Mindsets must change, and I support an amendment in the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, to give it more teeth and make it more severe." Why did Modi speak out so late? Defending the PM, she said, "He believes in action, not just talk. He has proved he is walking the talk", dismissing the notion that a lot of people believe the BJP has unleashed its brand of goondaism on the nation. "That is rubbish and absolutely untrue. The PM has the political will to deliver, and his intent and integrity cannot be doubted."
As per Krishna Hegde, former MLA and vice-president, BJP Mumbai, who was once a Congressman, "the culprits have been brought to book and nobody is shielding anybody". When asked why the PM made a weak, platitude-laden address about 'daughters of the nation', he said, "This is not a weak statement, it is a very strong one; and remember that Union Minister for Women & Child Development Maneka Gandhi is pushing for a Bill that gives death penalty to rapists of minors under 12."
Speaking about the shame on BJP, Hegde added, "There are good and bad people in every section of society; it is not right to categorise a party in this way." Will the cases mean votes lost for the BJP in the 2019 election, playing a huge part in influencing the electorate against the party? "I cannot say, really. I don't think it will dent the party. In the Kashmir (Kathua) incident, there is no direct connect. In the Unnao case, there is a BJP MLA accused, but action has been taken against him."
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