Rape of minor in Punjab triggers political slugfest; Congress, BJP accuse each other of selective outrage
The BJP attacked Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra of being selective in cases of atrocities against women and questioned their 'silence' over the alleged rape and killing of a six-year-old girl in Punjab
New Delhi: The rape of a minor Dalit in Punjab triggered a political slugfest on Saturday, with the BJP accusing the Congress of ''selective outrage'' by not visiting the victim's family and the grand old party hitting back by calling the ruling dispensation insensitive.
The BJP attacked Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra of being selective in cases of atrocities against women and questioned their "silence" over the alleged rape and killing of a six-year-old girl in Punjab.
Noting that the young girl belonged to a Dalit migrant family from Bihar, Finance Minister and BJP leader Nirmala Sitharaman also took a swipe at Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Tejashwi Yadav, questioning if he had asked Rahul Gandhi about the issue while holding a joint poll campaign with him in the state.
The Congress hit back accusing the BJP of showing insensitivity towards the victim and said the ruling party was politicising the issue due to Bihar elections.
Rahul Gandhi said that unlike the Uttar Pradesh government, the Punjab government was not denying that the girl was raped and it was not blocking justice. He said if they did, he would go there and fight for justice too.
Unlike in UP, the governments of Punjab and Rajasthan are NOT denying that the girl was raped, threatening her family and blocking the course of justice.
If they do, I will go there to fight for justice. #Hathras
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) October 24, 2020
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh hit out at BJP leaders, dubbing their remarks as "political puffery" with no substance.
There was no comparison between the Hoshiarpur and the Hathras case, he said, adding that in the Hathras case, UP did not initiate action but in fact was "trying to cover up" the matter.
"Had the BJP government in UP responded as effectively and speedily as we did in Punjab, neither the Congress and the Gandhis' nor scores of NGOs, lawyers, human rights activists would have been forced to take to the streets to fight for the victim," he said.
Hitting out at the Congress, Sitharaman said, "The pretentious Congress has not said a word...There has been no outrage. And no picnic either."
Her "picnic" jibe was in reference to Rahul Gandhi and his sister Priyanka Gandhi's visit to Hathras in BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh following the alleged gangrape of a Dalit girl, who died in a Delhi hospital subsequently.
The BJP had accused them of practising "political tourism" on the issue.
"The Congress party should stand up and answer. Does this kind of selective outrage suit the stature of their party? Why is the brother-sister pair not going and voicing horror in Hoshiarpur? Why not in Rajasthan? The selective cry of outrage that the Congress wants to show when it is elsewhere but not in states governed by it is completely exposed," Sitharaman said.
Union minister Prakash Javadekar asked why the two Congress leaders had not paid a visit to the family of the victim in Punjab yet, as he accused them of going on a "political tour" to Hathras. He asked why a similar reaction was not forthcoming from them.
"They (the Gandhis) cannot see atrocities against women in the states where it (Congress) is in power. Neither Rahul Gandhi nor Priyanka went there and nor was there any comment from its president, Sonia Gandhi," he told reporters here.
Defending the Gandhis, Mahila Congress chief Sushmita Dev asked if anyone can accuse the Punjab government of inaction or of threatening the victim''s family-like UP government did. She said while UP cops beat up media people, Punjab has not tried to hush up this case.
Asking Sitharaman and Javadekar where they were during the Hathras incident, she accused them of raking up the Punjab rape case for political gains in Bihar.
"I hope that Nirmala Sithraman Ji will stop displaying insensitivity towards a sensitive issue like this. Don't politicise it. The nation understands that you have suddenly woken up from your deep sleep because Bihar is in election mode.
"Your party, your leaders, your prime minister do not see beyond elections and that''s why, all of a sudden, you have decided to make Hoshiarpur an issue," she told reporters.
Drawing a distinction between Hathras and Hoshiarpur rape cases, she said while the opposition parties felt the need to visit the Hathras victim''s family due to the insensitivity of the Uttar Pradesh government, "they may not feel the same need in the case of Punjab".
In a horrifying incident, a six-year-old girl was allegedly raped, killed, and then set on fire, with her half-burnt body found at a home in Tanda's Jalalpur village, police said on Thursday.
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