Karnataka’s BJP lawmaker K.S. Eshwarappa on Saturday sparked a controversy with his remarks on rape incidents in the state. He later said his remarks had been taken out of context but expressed regret if he had hurt or offended anyone.
Replying to a query on why his Bharatiya Janata Party was silent on the heinous crime being perpetrated even on minor girls in the state, he asked a local news channel journalist what he could do if someone abducted and raped her.
“You are a woman and here now. If someone drags you and rapes you, what can we do as we (opposition people) would be somewhere else,” Eshwarappa retorted on the margins of an event at Ramanagara, about 50 km from here.
The former deputy chief minister in the BJP government is currently the leader of opposition in the legislative council.
Taking objection to Eshwarappa’s offensive remarks, television and print media journalists complained to the party’s leaders, including former chief minister Jagadish Shettar, who decried and said the remark was not in good taste.
When a section of the outraged media complained to Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, he played down the issue, saying: “When he (Eshwarappa) spoke seriously, he always speaks lightly.”
Asked why the BJP was not holding the Congress government responsible for such crimes, Eshwarappa had retorted: “You tell me what we need to do. We will do it. We have criticised the government in the house when a six-year-old girl was sexually abused in the city last year.”
When his remarks were condemned by political leaders, social activists and women groups, a rattled Eshwarappa hastened to clarify that his comments were twisted out of context.
“I have highest respect for women and consider them as sisters and girls as daughters. My reply has been distorted, as I was expressing their plight in anguish due to weak law and order in the state,” he said.
Expressing regret if his remarks had hurt the journalist and offended women, Eshwarappa said he was only trying to highlight the deteriorating law and order situation in the state where anyone could be raped anywhere.