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Beti Bachao from BJP, says Rahul Gandhi

Congress takes a moral stand in the resignation of the NSUI chief on a harassment charge

  • Published 17.10.18, 1:30 AM
  • Updated 17.10.18, 12:44 PM
  • 2 mins read
  •  
M.J. Akbar outside his home on Sunday. PTI

Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday seized on the Prime Minister’s silence on allegations of sexual harassment against his minister M.J. Akbar to argue that daughters were not safe under the Narendra Modi government.

Modiji ne bahut achchha nara diya tha Beti Padhao, Beti Bachao (Modiji had given a very good slogan — Educate the daughter, Save the daughter),” Rahul told an election rally at Sheopur in Madhya Pradesh.

“Questions are raised about Narendra Modi’s minister. A BJP MLA in Uttar Pradesh commits rape. Not a word escapes from the Prime Minister’s lips,” Rahul added.

The slogan, he said, should be changed to “Beti Padhao, BJP ke netaonse, mantrionse, MLAs se Beti Bachao (Educate the daughter, Save the daughter from the BJP’s leaders, ministers and MLAs)”.

The junior foreign minister has been named in the MeToo movement by over a dozen women. As one journalist after another has spoken out over the past eight days against their former editor, Modi has remained silent. The Prime Minister is also yet to comment on party MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar, who is in jail on charges of rape.

Akbar has filed a criminal defamation suit against journalist Priya Ramani, who was the first to name him. But one more of his former colleagues came out with a testimony against him on Tuesday, taking the number to 16.

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Rahul, who has voiced support for the MeToo campaign, has desisted from directly calling for Akbar’s resignation. But on Tuesday, his party pointed to the resignation of its student wing president to underline the difference between the BJP’s “tradition” and that of the Congress.

NSUI president Fairoz Khan has resigned following allegations of sexual harassment. Party spokesperson Manish Tewari said the resignation was offered “on moral grounds” and had been accepted by Rahul.

“There is a difference between traditions and traditions. During the UPA government, whenever there were allegations against a minister or an office-bearer, they resigned on moral grounds. It did not mean that they were guilty. This is the Congress’s tradition…. In contrast, take note of the last 52 months. A situation of shamelessness has spread,” he said.

No minister in the Modi government has resigned in four-and-a-half years. Early in the tenure of the Modi government, then minister of state for panchayati raj Nihal Chand was accused of rape but no action was taken against him. Over a year later, he was dropped in a cabinet shuffle.

On Tuesday, the Indian Women’s Press Corps wrote separately to home minister Rajnath Singh, women and child development minister Maneka Gandhi and National Commission for Women (NCW) chairperson Rekha Sharma to seek their intervention in ensuring action against Akbar.

Expressing disappointment that not even an inquiry has been instituted by the Modi government to look into the complaints that have been made against the junior minister, the letters to Singh and Maneka seek a fair and impartial probe into his conduct and also to examine whether media houses have effective institutional mechanisms in place to deal with sexual harassment. A similar request has been made to the NCW.