One can say a lot about the character of a leader by the way he or she responds to immoral and improper conduct within his or her political party. In the last few days, the internet has been flooded with appeals and accusations by both sides of the Indian political spectrum on the deteriorating state of women’s safety and incompetency of the political and the legal establishments to take proper action. Many accused the opposition of political opportunism at the expense of the dead. Questions were asked about how the name of the victim along with the pictures came to the public domain as it is explicitly prohibited by law to disclose such information, which is sub-judice. The most pertinent question is why it took 3 months for the media to pick it up, and why the name of the victim is being flashed along with her photos in public when the case is still under investigation. In the wake of such morally wrought and saddening circumstances, we take a look at how three leaders handled cases of harassment when in power.
Yogi Adityanath & Unnao –This case got enormous amount of media attention. A 17-year-old minor accused the BJP MLA from Bangarmau, Kuldeep Sengar, of molestation and rape. The police started the probe and while the probe was going on, Police took custody of the accuser’s father who died in police custody. Yogi Adityanath known for his no non-sense approach towards law & order took cognizance of the unprofessional behaviour and code of conduct of the Police. Yogi promptly asked the Centre to intervene through handing over the realms of the investigation to the Central Bureau of Investigation. Mind you, A CBI probe can only be initiated by two authorities, one being the judiciary and the second the State government. In this particular case its Yogi Adityanath’s government which took initiative and proved that good governance and political nepotism can never go hand in hand. Hats off to Yogi!
The CBI arrested the accused on the basis of Prima facie evidence at around 9.30 p.m last night. Their spokes person stated –
“We have arrested Kuldeep Sengar on charges of prima facie rape. There are certain inconsistencies in his statements over the June 4 incident for which we require his custody. He will be produced before a local CBI court in Lucknow on Saturday.”
This is to be expected from every political leader who gives primacy to the plight of the citizens and not political equations, but that is not the case always as we will see in the next example –
Akhilesh Yadav, Gayatri Prajapati & SP’s sand mining contract– This is slightly old, thus most would have probably forgotten the scale and the nature of the horrific crime, and the equally disturbing attempt by the then incumbent Samajwadi government to shield the rape accused.
Gayatri Prajapati was and still is one of the closest associates of SP chief and father of Akhilesh Yadav- Mulayam Singh Yadav. At the time of the incident Prajapati was minister in SP’s cabinet. The police did not even register a FIR at first for the rape, under influence from Akhilesh, it was only after the victim and her daughter who was 16 years old then, moved the Supreme Court and the apex court intervened, that a formal FIR was lodged. The rape charge against Prajapati was of raping a woman for a continuous span of two years promising a place in the party and sand mining contracts. The minister and his aide allegedly molested the minor daughter of the woman as well. After the registration of FIR, incidents took place that would put any daily TV serial to shame. Prajapati who was denying the charges all along, went missing and the cause provided was atrociously silly – he felt threatened by his own security detail. All this while he was missing, he continued to be a part of the SP cabinet. The Governor sought justification for the bizarre attitude of the government but to no avail. This continued until the last assembly election in which BJP won in Uttar Pradesh and merely within a few days he was arrested. Since the same people (Rahul, Akhilesh) who stood firmly by the side of this rape accused ironically held a candle light vigil in solidarity with another rape victim, it only goes to show the moral bankruptcy that these people possess.
The compromising nature of Kejriwal – This last case is of utmost significance because it shows the nadir of political patronage and the omnipresent sexism in certain political parties. Mr. Kejriwal, the messianic figure in Indian politics showed his true colours in the 2016 suicide case of AAP volunteer Soni in Delhi.
Soni constantly complained to Kejriwal and other senior party members about misconduct and molestation by AAP MLA Mr. Wadha and several others inside the party but the party and party Chief Arvind Kejriwal refused to pay heed to the cries of this young and ambitious woman. She was told that in order to climb up the ranks in the party she must be willing to “compromise”. Yes, as derogative and abysmal it sounds, that is the response she got while seeking justice form her own party.
Delhi police arrested Ramesh Wadha promptly, but he was later released on bail, which forced Soni into depression, and the pressure from within the party to withdraw the case ultimately led to her committing suicide. Kejriwal and his AAP disowned the MLA and then went on to shamelessly create a theory of political conspiracy.
The family of the volunteer also accused that Kejriwal was involved in the blackmailing, they accused the party of threatening to abduct the woman’s two daughters and felt that Kejriwal vindictively blocked the little girl’s admission in their school.
This has been only three contemporary cases of alleged misconduct by party members and the actions taken by the respective leaders. There are dozens of such examples where incompetency and political equations took primacy over the security and welfare of the citizen.
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