he political row over former Karnataka assembly speaker KR Ramesh Kumar’s comment on rape on the floor of the state assembly escalated on Friday even as the Congress MLA apologised for his “off the cuff” remark.
While the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) alleged that Congress leaders have a history of making such insulting comments about women, several Congress leaders also criticised Kumar for his statement.
As proceedings in the Karnataka assembly resumed for the day, Kumar apologised for saying “when rape is inevitable, enjoy and lie down”. “If the statements I made in the House, if any sections of the society, including women especially, if they are hurt, I have no embarrassment to express my regret,” the Congress leader said.
Kumar had also apologised late on Thursday, hours after his remark created a furore.
Accepting the MLA’s apology, Karnataka speaker Vishweshwar Hegde Kageri appealed to the members, especially women MLAs, not to drag the matter further. Kageri also prevented Karnataka minister for Muzarai, Haj & Wakf, Shashikala Jolle, from speaking on the issue.
“Don’t escalate this. He has expressed regret,” the Speaker said, adding, “It has ended here. So please, nobody (should) try to escalate it anywhere…”
Meanwhile, several BJP leaders targeted the Congress party over Kumar’s remark. Union women and child development minister Smriti Irani demanded that the political party concerned should first bring the person to justice.
“If you truly believe in the cause of women, first stand here and denounce that legislator who said that if you are raped, as a woman in the country you should enjoy it.,” the minister said during Question Hour in the Lok Sabha during the ongoing session of Parliament.
The Congress MLA also came under criticism from his own party leaders.
“I wholeheartedly condemn the statement made earlier today by Sri. K.R.Ramesh Kumar. It is inexplicable how anyone can ever utter such words, they are indefensible. Rape is a heinous crime. Full stop,” party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra tweeted tweeted.
Karnataka Congress president DK Shivakumar said “men in politics need to do better”. “The incident is a sign that all of us men in politics need to do better to shed our inherent regressive attitudes towards women,” he said.
National Commission for Women chairperson Rekha Sharma also hit out at Kumar, saying: “It’s really disgusting. If they sit in assemblies and speak like this how they must be behaving with women in their lives?”