Karnataka Speaker withdraws ‘rape victim’ remark

Bengaluru: Karnataka legislative Assembly Speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar here on Wednesday regretted and withdrew his remark likening himself to a “rape victim” during a discussion on the audio clip in which BJP chief B.S. Yeddyurappa allegedly made an attempt to lure a JD-S legislator.

“My remarks were not intended to hurt anyone, and I have utmost respect for women,” Kumar told the Assembly.

His clarification came after women legislators from coalition partners Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) and Congress, including Anita Kumaraswamy (JD-S), wife of Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy, Anjali Nimbalkar (Congress), Laxmi Hebbalkar (Congress) and few others, urged the Speaker to withdraw his comments.

The Speaker on Tuesday likened himself to a “rape victim” who had to undergo repeated questioning in view of his name being mentioned in the audio tape, which has been rocking the Assembly for the past three days.

“…at the end of the trial, a woman will say that she was raped only once in reality, but she was raped multiple times in court during cross-examination. My situation is like that,” Kumar had said on Tuesday during a debate on the audio tape in the House.

Earlier in the day, women legislators in a letter to the Speaker said the comment brought them discomfort and should not have been made.

In the clip, former Chief Minister and BJP leader Yeddyurappa allegedly mentioned the Speaker’s name while in conversation with JD-S MLA Naganagouda Kandakur’s son, Sharanagouda, on February 7.

Playing the clip to the media here on February 8, Kumaraswamy and Sharanagouda alleged that Yeddyurappa agreed to pay an unspecified amount if Kandakur left the JD-S and joined the BJP.

Sharanagouda also claimed Yeddyurappa told him that the Speaker could be managed by paying Rs 50 crore for not invoking the anti-defection law against Kandakur in the event of his defection to the BJP.

Terming the reference to him in the audio tape as disrespectful to the post of Speaker, Kumar said he was pained by his name being mentioned in the episode.