Ajay Banerjee/Mukesh Rajan
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, December 13
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi's remarks on rape were at the centre of furious protests in the Lok Sabha on the last day of the winter session on Friday with leaders of the ruling BJP protesting and demanding an apology from him.
Gandhi said in Jharkhand on Thursday that Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 'Make in India' initiative is like 'rape in India', an apparent reference to rising incidents of rape in the country.
As Speaker Om Birla, who adjourned the House sine die, was reading out his remarks on the various issues taken up during the session, Treasury benches demanded an apology from Gandhi for his rape remarks.
Opposition members were also heard shouting slogans such as "We Want Justice" and insisting that Gandhi be given a chance to respond.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Gandhi were present in the House.
Outside the Parliament, Gandhi said he will not apologise and cited that the remarks of Narendra Modi, who as Chief Minister of Gujarat used a similar expression in the past to describe incidents of rapes in the country.
In response to the criticism he faced for his remark, Gandhi attached an old in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi was heard calling Delhi a “rape capital”.
Modi should apologise.— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) December 13, 2019
1. For burning the North East.
2. For destroying India’s economy.
3. For this speech, a clip of which I'm attaching. pic.twitter.com/KgPU8dpmrE
Gandhi said in his tweet: “Modi should apologise. 1. For burning the North East. 2. For destroying India’s economy. 3. For this speech, a clip of which I'm attaching”.
Although the exact date of the clip is unclear, it seems to pertain to the time when Modi was chief minister of Gujarat.
Earlier in the morning, as the ruckus continued for around half-an-hour, the speaker adjourned the proceedings till noon and was unable to take up Question Hour.
Soon after the House paid tributes to those who lost their lives in the 2001 Parliament attack, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Arjun Ram Meghwal said several BJP members had given notices of adjournment against Gandhi's remarks and should be allowed to speak.
Tearing into Gandhi, Union minister Smriti Irani said he has insulted the women and people of India and claimed his remarks are like inviting people to rape women.
Demanding an apology from Gandhi, the minister said the remarks amount to political mockery and he should be punished.
Her party colleague Locket Chatterjee said Gandhi had insulted women by making remarks that 'Make in India' had become "rape in India".
She said all men were not rapists.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi and Meghwal also said Gandhi should apologise and recalled an earlier instance of Sadhvi Niranjana Jyoti saying sorry for remarks made outside the House.
Joshi also asked DMK member Kanimozhi and NCP leader Supriya Sule to express their opinion on Gandhi's remarks, which are an insult to women.
More than 30 members from the BJP, including Sadhvi Pragya, were seen standing in the aisle and shouting slogans.
Congress members, too, were in the aisle.
BJP's women Parliamentarians, led by Union minister Smriti Irani, met election commission officials here and sought "severest possible action" against Gandhi for his comments made on Thursday.
"It is with a sense of outrage that women MPs of BJP have approached the Election Commission of India to take strongest action possible against Rahul Gandhi. Mr Gandhi has used rape as a political weapon to settle scores with Narendra Modi.”
"We have beseeched the Election Commission that it is for the first time that a political leader has used rape for political mockery. The entire nation looks upon this constitutional authority (EC) to ensure that dignity of women is upheld and those politicians who seek to use rape as a political weapon are reprimanded with the severest punishment possible," she told reporters after the meeting.
Irani said she leaves it to the Election Commission to decided the punishment it will give to Gandhi.
"Who has given Rahul Gandhi the right to say that all women are being raped in the country? Who has given Rahul Gandhi the right to say that every man is a rapist? Who has given Rahul Gandhi the right to tarnish the image of the country for his own politics?" she asked.
Irani said the EC officials have assured the delegation that they will do justice after following legal procedures. She said Rahul Gandhi has made such a condemnable statement "deliberately" for his political benefit.
A number of BJP women MPs accompanied her during her meeting with the EC officials. They also handed over a memorandum to the EC.
"Rahul Gandhi has grossly violated the letter and spirit of the Model Code of Conduct. He has inflicted irreparable hurt on the status of women in India," their memorandum reads.
Assembly polls are being held in Jharkhand in five phases. The counting of votes will take place on December 23.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday slammed Rahul Gandhi for making a "horrendous" statement saying it was a matter of shame that the senior Congress leader was speaking by forgetting about the dignity of women.
At a press conference called to talk about steps taken by the government to boost the economy, she was asked by a reporter about Gandhi's comment at a public meeting in Jharkhand that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had promised 'Make in India' but "wherever you see now you find 'rape in India'".
She said Gandhi made a "horrendous" statement and she could have used it to divert attention from the economy.
"It is a matter of shame that a senior leader of Congress party speaks forgetting dignity of women," Sitharaman said.
— With inputs from PTI
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