Despite having a supposedly independent woman leader, BSP as a party ranks way behind on the list of women empowered parties. It was the SP-BSP alliance that had stalled the Triple Talaq Bill which sought to empower women. Mayawati’s recent comment on PM Modi stating that women fear that if PM Modi meets their husbands, they will leave them, is an indication to the sheer disrespect she holds for women. Now, in a latest, she has sought to campaign for a candidate accused of sexual harassment.
Atul Rai, the BSP candidate from the Ghosi seat in Uttar Pradesh’s Mau district, has reportedly sexually harassed a college student at the pretext of taking her home to meet his wife. Thereafter, Atul Rai is reportedly absconding ever since an FIR of sexual harassment was registered at a police station in Varanasi against him on May 1. It is being speculated that Atul Rai flew to Malaysia to avoid arrest.
Instead of condemning the vile act or at least waiting for the judicial process, Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav have been urging the people to vote for the accused. Ghosi is supposed to go on polls on 19th May. Even though the candidate is himself missing from the scene, in a strange turn of events, Mayawati is justifying his absence and campaigning in his stead. Rationalizing the situation, one of the supporters stated, “We are campaigning for him and the people of Ghosi know that he is being framed. He may be arrested if he comes here for campaigning.”
Afraid of the crime having political ramifications, the SP-BSP alliance is attempting to stay the arrest until after the result is announced; because even though the party can resort to such lows so as to field candidate accused of sexual harassment as a representative of the people, no prudent person will want to elect such a candidate who has been arrested of the vile crime. If a citizen does not feel safe around a person, why would they want elect him as their leader?
The SP-BSP is well aware of this fact and that is why lawyers of Atul Rai have moved the Supreme Court, urging a stay on his arrest till May 23, the day of vote counting. The constituency goes to polls on 19th so the citizens would already have voted before he is arrested. A Vacation Bench will hear the matter today.
This is not the first time this election season that a leader in the SP-BSP alliance has been accused of a crime against a woman. SP leader Azam Khan, had made a highly abusive remark on actor turned politician Jaya Prada during a campaign rally at Rampur by stating, “Jaya Prada ke neeche ka underwear Khaki rang ka hai.” On request of the National Commission for Women, EC had banned the leader from campaigning for a period of 72 hours, along with which an FIR has been filed against him for his remarks.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi too expressed his displeasure at the SP-BSP alliance for fielding a candidate accused of sexual harassment from the Ghosi seat. Addressing an election rally in Mau yesterday, PM Modi said the Samajwadi Party has a history of doing so but questioned the women leader, Mayawati, “Behenji, will you seek votes for such candidates?”
Conveniently labeling the accusation as a “political gimmick”, Mayawati is attempting to garner sympathy votes. Nevertheless, it is prudent that the proper procedure of law is to be followed and attempting to interfere in the due process by moving the court to defer the arrest till 23rd of May, implies that the only people attempting to accrue political benefits from the heinous crime is the SP-BSP cadre themselves.