Karnataka Congress MLA's Rape Remark Sparks Row; 'Indefensible' Says Priyanka
Under fire from leaders of his own party as well as others, KR Ramesh Kumar has now apologised for his comment.
Congress leader and former Speaker of the Karnataka Assembly, KR Ramesh Kumar, stoked a controversy on Thursday, 16 December, for making sexist remarks during the Assembly session, comparing the Speaker's inability to control the House to giving in to and 'enjoying' rape.
"There is a saying that when rape is inevitable, lie down and enjoy it. That is exactly the position which you are in," said KR Ramesh Kumar.
Speaker Vishweshwara Hegde Kageri found himself in a fix on Thursday when MLAs continued to demand more time to speak on farmers' issues. Kageri asked how he could run the session if he gave time to every member to speak. Giving up, he asked the members to decide on their own.
Looking at Ramesh Kumar, Kageri said, "Whatever you decide, I will say yes. What I am thinking is that let us enjoy the situation. I can't control or regulate the system. My concern is about the business of the House. It also has to be covered."
Ramesh Kumar then intervened and made the controversial remark, which was met with laughter from the Speaker and members of the House.
Under Fire, Kumar Offers Apology
Kumar, who was under fire from public representatives as well as leaders of his own party, apologised for his comment during the Assembly session on Friday, 17 December.
"If it hurts the sentiments of women, I've no problem apologising. I apologise from the bottom of my heart," he said.
Attempting to put the matter to rest, Speaker Vishweshwara Hegde Kageri said, "He has apologised, let's not drag it further."
Earlier in the day, Kumar had evaded media's questions on the matter. On being asked if he would like to apologise, Kumar simply waved his hand and walked away without commenting.
'Indefensible': Kumar's Comment Draws Ire
However, his comments drew angry responses from his party colleagues, with Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra calling the statement 'indefensible'.
Khanapur Congress MLA Anjali Nimbalkar tweeted, "The House shall apologise to entire womanhood, every mother, sister & daughter of this nation for such an obnoxious & shameless behaviour [sic]."
Another Congress MLA, Somya Reddy, reacted to his sexist statement, saying, "This is just NOT ok. There needs to be an apology."
Meanwhile, Congress general secretary Randeep Surjewala took to Twitter to condemn the incident, calling his party MLA's behaviour "unacceptable".
"The Congress party disapproves the exchange of highly objectionable and insensitive banter between Karnataka Assembly Speaker and a senior Congress MLA in the House. Speaker, as custodian, and senior legislators are expected to be role models and should desist from such unacceptable behaviour," he said.
Smriti Irani, Jaya Bachchan Condemn Statement
Union Minister of Women and Child Development, Smriti Irani, also condemned the Congress MLA's statement.
"Every public representative must condemn Ramesh Kumar's rape remarks. If you truly believe in the cause of women, first stand here and denounce that legislator," she said during the Lok Sabha session.
"It is extremely shameful that inside the Vidhan Sabha, a Congress leader has given a shameful statement about women, that one should enjoy while a woman gets raped," she later said, according to ANI.
"The Congress should first suspend their leader before talking about women empowerment and raising slogans like 'Ladki hoon, lad sakti hoon' in Uttar Pradesh," she added.
Meanwhile, Samajwadi Party (SP) MP Jaya Bachchan called for strict action against Kumar. "Shameful behaviour, shameful action. The party must deal with them and take very strict action so that it's an example for others not to even think of such things, let alone talk about it in the House," she was quoted as saying by ANI.
"If you have people with such a mindset sitting in Assembly or Parliament, how can things change? We have to create an example by giving them the strictest punishment so that nobody ever dares speak like this. This is disgusting, I'm shocked," she added.
'Extremely Sad and Unfortunate': NCW Head Slams Remark
The National Commission for Women (NCW) chairperson Rekha Sharma on Friday slammed Kumar for his 'rape' remark made in the state Assembly.
"It is extremely sad and unfortunate that we still have public representative who are misogynists and have horrible mindset towards women," she said in a tweet.
The NCW chairperson asked in a subsequent tweet 'if they sit in Assemblies and speak like this, how they must be behaving with women in their lives?'
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