Prajwal Revanna case: Of political sense and gender insensibility

The BJP has already come under fire over the scandal, not just from the Congress but from civil society as well.
JD(S) leader and Hassan MP Prajwal Revanna
JD(S) leader and Hassan MP Prajwal RevannaPhoto | X @iPrajwalRevanna

The alleged sex scandal in which Hassan’s 33-year-old parliamentarian Prajwal Revanna and his father, former minister and Holenarasipura MLA H D Revanna, both JDS leaders, are accused has not only become a major political issue, but it has again brought to light the systemic rot in societal attitude towards women. Although the Karnataka government has constituted a special investigative team to verify the facts, the issue throws up several political and ethical questions.

The timing of the publication of these videos, numbering about 3,000, smacks of a political conspiracy. The impact could be felt by the BJP, which is in alliance with the JDS. By the time the videos went viral and became a subject of conversation across India and abroad, the JDS had already contested its allotted three of the 14 Lok Sabha seats in the second phase of voting on April 26—Hassan (from where Prajwal contested), Mandya and Kolar. In the rest of the 14 Lok Sabha seats that will go to the polls on May 7, the BJP is in direct contest with the Congress.

The BJP has already come under fire over the scandal, not just from the Congress but from civil society as well. Questions are being raised on the apparent silence maintained by BJP’s central and state leadership. The BJP and the Congress are now trading accusations. While Congress leaders including Rahul Gandhi questioned how Prajwal was allowed to leave India on April 27 despite the videos making the rounds, Union Home Minister Amit Shah countered why the Congress-ruled Karnataka government failed to act despite knowing about the case.

The larger question is about punishing the guilty, not the victims, and the vulnerability of women who are a robust voter base for both the Congress and the BJP in the state. The probe needs to focus on the insensitive manner in which the videos were circulated without blurring the faces of the victims and the people who were responsible for their circulation. The case shows how women so easily become objects of sexual exploitation by men in power. Equally disgusting is political parties using the victims as tools to gain advantage over each other. Whichever way the investigation unfolds, the case must be a loud knock on the door of Indian sensibilities towards women.

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The New Indian Express