Karnataka’s Porn Scandal :
Shame on BJP's Hypocrisy and Insult to Women
The recent ‘porngate’ scandal in Karnataka, in which three BJP Ministers were caught by a TV channel, viewing a porn clip inside the Assembly, has exposed the BJP’s bankruptcy and moral double standards thoroughly. The Ministers in question have had to resign, but such damage control measures are far from adequate.
The BJP and its sister organizations in the Sangh brigade are notorious for imposing ‘dress codes’ on women, and assaulting women who defy these codes. In BJP-ruled Karnataka, the Government has defended and protected saffron goons who have attacked women for visiting pubs, or sitting in public with male friends. Around this time every year, there are reports of Sangh goons attacking couples who celebrate Valentine’s Day. Now, the world has seen how these self-proclaimed custodians of morality and self-appointed ‘protectors of Indian womanhood,’ while away their time inside the Assembly, watching clips of sexual violence on women.
One of the ex-Ministers caught in the act, has claimed that, in the context of a debate in the Assembly over a controversial party, they were watching a video of such a party held in a foreign country, in which a woman is gang-raped by the men she was dancing with. In other words, the clip being watched was not just a sex video, it was a video of a gang-rape! The BJP MLA’s bizarre ‘defence’ only underlines how much of pornography involves content that is violent and exploitative towards women. Newspapers have reported that this clip of sexual violence was shared and watched by several more BJP MLAs, before the TV cameras caught two of them on camera.
One of the MLAs caught viewing the clip, was the Women and Child Development Minister CC Patil, who, just a few weeks ago, said that women ‘invited’ rape by dressing indecently. A Minister holding the portfolio for women’s welfare, spends his time in the Assembly watching a gang-rape video with his male colleagues – and then brazenly justifies rape by blaming it on women’s ‘indecency’! There could be no better proof for the fact that those who seek to police women’s dress and conduct have much in common with those who perpetrate sexual violence on women.
Although the BJP, in a hasty damage control exercise, has had to get the three Ministers to resign, the MLAs and the party too remain unrepentant. The BJP has refused to expel the MLAs. The Goa Chief Minister from the BJP has said that the MLAs were ‘only watching’ and not ‘doing anything.’ The Jharkhand Assembly Speaker, also from the BJP, has said there is nothing wrong in watching videos in Assembly, and he would have taken no action on such MLAs if the incident had taken place in his Assembly!
The contrast between BJP’s moral sermonising and moral policing of women, and the conduct of its elected representatives in Assembly, is especially glaring. But violence and exploitation of women by elected representatives is common in other parties too. Former Uttarakhand CM from Congress, ND Tiwari, is accused of granting licenses for petrol pumps etc in exchange for sexual favours. In Rajasthan, Congress Minister Mahipal Maderna and MLA Malkhan Singh, are implicated in the murder of a dalit nurse, Bhanwari Devi, with whom they had sexual relations, in exchange for waiving her transfer to a remote area. A series of MLAs of the ruling BSP in Uttar Pradesh are implicated in rape, kidnapping, and murder of women. Former BJP MLA from Purnea Raj Kishore Kesri was implicated in the long-term rape and harassment of Rupam Pathak in Bihar. Between 2007 and 2010, several other BJP MLAs in Karnataka, too, have been implicated in violence towards women, including rape, blackmail, and murder.
The resignation from Ministerial posts is far from enough. The Assembly membership of all the BJP MLAs who shared and viewed the gang-rape video inside the Karnataka Assembly must be terminated. They have violated every norm of public conduct and women’s rights and dignity, and no longer have any right to call themselves people’s representatives.