BJP has inflicted a self-goal in the Uttar Pradesh panchayat polls by giving a ticket to a convicted rapist and former MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar’s wife Sangeeta Sengar and later cancelling her candidature, after receiving tremendous backlash from the public and opposition parties alike.
On Friday last week, according to a list released by state party chief Swatantra Dev Singh, BJP had made Sangeeta Sengar a candidate for the district panchayat member from Ward No. 22 of Fatehpur Chaurasi. However, yesterday Swantantra Dev remarked Ms Sengar’s nomination from Unnao stood cancelled. “She won’t be the BJP candidate,” he told a television channel.
BJP MP and its chief whip in Rajya Sabha Shiv Pratap Shukla had reasoned the initial decision by saying she shouldn’t be overlooked because she is the wife of a convict.
“I think Kuldeep Sengar’s wife has been given a ticket by UP BJP after a discussion. I believe that Kuldeep Sengar’s wife has been the chairperson of the Zilla Panchayat Unnao. If she has popularity, she should not be overlooked because she is the wife of a convict.” said Shukla.
Reported by TFI extensively, Kuldeep Singh Sengar and his aides had reportedly gang-raped a minor girl from his Makhi village in Uttar Pradesh’s Unnao district in 2017. In April 2018, it was reported that the rape survivor’s father was beaten by the MLA’s brother and his aides in Unnao. The rape survivor later tried to immolate herself outside the CM residence on April 8, 2018.
This further brought the details of the horrifying crime into the limelight across India. The case continued to get more and more traumatising for the survivor and her family. On April 9, the survivor’s father died in judicial custody after he was allegedly framed in an illegal arms case.
In early 2019, a car in which survivor and her family were travelling was hit by a truck. The accident alleged to have been orchestrated by the convicted MLA and his aides in which two aunts of the survivor were killed. The uncle of the survivor claimed that the driver of the truck which hit the car in which his family was travelling, was associated with the MLA. The collision was orchestrated with an “intent to kill”.
On December 20, 2019, a court in Delhi had awarded life imprisonment to Kuldeep. The Tis Hazari court had also slapped a fine of Rs 25 lakh on Sengar after being convicted under Section 376 of the IPC and Sections 5(c) and 6 of Protection of Child from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO).
Although BJP took the smart and wise decision of cancelling Sengar’s wife ticket but the damage had already been done by giving her a ticket in the first place. The rationality that a convicted felon’s wife should not pay the price for her husband’s misdeeds is a noble idea. However, in the turf of politics, optics matter and BJP and its approval ratings appear to have taken a nosedive after the entire episode.