Soon after Union Minister Smriti Irani took a jab at Priyanka Gandhi Vadra over Congress MLA KR Ramesh Kumar’s outrageous “enjoy rape” remark in the Karnataka assembly, the Congress leader has tweeted saying she “wholeheartedly condemns” the statement. “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.,” she said in a tweet.
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.
— Priyanka Gandhi Vadra (@priyankagandhi) December 17, 2021
Minister of Women and Child Development Smriti Irani had strongly criticised Mr Kumar’s remark and called it “shameful”. She had also made a veiled attack at Congress General Secretary Ms Vadra, referring to her women’s outreach program ahead of the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections. “Congress should first suspend their leader before talking about women empowerment and raising slogans like “Ladki Hoon, Lad Sakti Hoon” in Uttar Pradesh,” she had said.
Ms Irani had raised the issue in the parliament as well. “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. Those men who stand in this Well today, go back to your political organisation and first bring to justice such a man, then we will see who speaks for women and children in this country,” she had said.
K.R. Ramesh Kumar has been criticised by several leaders, including from his own party. Samajwadi Party’s Rajya Sabha MP Jaya Bachchan said the Congress party must take strict action against the MLA.
“Congress Party disapproves the exchange of highly objectionable & insensitive banter between Karnataka Assembly Speaker & Sr. Congress MLA in the House,” party General Secretary Randeep Singh Surjewala tweeted. “Speaker as custodian & Sr legislators are expected to be role models & should desist from such unacceptable behaviour,” he added.
Mr Kumar had posted an apology on Twitter following massive backlash. He called his remarks “indifferent” and “negligent”, and asserted that it was an “off the cuff” remark.
I would like to express my sincere apologies to everyone for the indifferent and negligent comment I made in today’s assembly about “Rape!” My intention was not trivialise or make light of the heinous crime, but an off the cuff remark! I will choose my words carefully henceforth!
— K. R. Ramesh Kumar (@KRRameshKumar1) December 16, 2021
The Congress leader offered another apology when faced with protests from women MLAs in the assembly today, saying: “If it hurts the sentiments of women, I’ve no problem apologising. I apologize from the bottom of my heart.” The Speaker then said: “He has apologised, let’s not drag it further.”
The Congress MLA made the comment during a discussion on farmers in the Karnataka assembly yesterday. In a clamour among members to have their say, the Speaker wondered how he could run the session if every MLA was given time to speak.
“Whatever you decide – I will say yes. What I am thinking is that let us enjoy the situation. I can’t control or regulate the system. My concern is about the business of the house, it has also to be covered,” Mr Kageri said.
The Congress MLA responded: “There is a saying that when rape is inevitable, lie down and enjoy it. That is exactly the position which you are in.” Shockingly, there was laughter in the state assembly in response. In a video, the Speaker is seen chuckling.
Congress’s Rajya Sabha leader Mallikarjun Kharge has also condemned the remark. “I strongly condemn this comment. He has been Speaker, and a minister. I didn’t like it. He has apologized for his comment but such language is condemnable. We respect women. The Speaker was laughing at the comment, we don’t approve of that either,” he told NDTV.