A video in which Karnataka Housing Minister V Somanna appears to slap a woman at a recent public event led a furious Opposition on Sunday to call for his sacking from the Basavaraj Bommai-led Cabinet. The Opposition kept up its attacks on the BJP-led government even though the woman has claimed that she was not slapped. The minister issued an apology but claimed he did not slap her.
The incident occurred on Saturday at an event Somanna at the Hangala village in Chamarajanagar district’s Gundlupet taluk. As per sources, 173 beneficiaries were handed out land title deeds. The woman, identified as Kempamma, came to the venue and claimed the selection process for beneficiaries was rigged and alleged that title deeds were given to people upon the suggestions of Congress leader Nanjappa.
The video of the minister’s alleged altercation with the woman was circulated widely on Sunday. But Somanna claimed his hand had just touched her face. Kempamma told reporters that the minister had patted her cheek and alleged that the video of the incident had been altered. The BJP has not yet commented on the matter.
“This incident is not an incident at all. I have been in politics for the past 40 years. This was a programme organised for the downtrodden and economically weaker section of society. Though I did not misbehave at all, if anyone felt hurt then I apologise and express my regret,” Somanna told reporters in Chamarajanagar.
The minister claimed that though he told Kempamma he would would “resolve her issue in 10 minutes” once he alighted from the stage, “she did not relent”. Somanna added, “I was trying to make her stand aside, indicating with my hand. There was no other intention other than that. I have high a regard for women. I too come from a financially weaker background.”
The Opposition continued its criticism of the BJP and asked if Prime Minister Narendra Modi would take action against a senior party member.
Calling for Somanna’s dismissal, Congress MP Randeep Singh Surjewala tweeted a video in which he said, “The New Gem of Bommai Govt. BJP Minister slaps a hapless woman. She falls to the ground. Instead of apologising for the shameless act, Minister V. Somanna makes the police throw her out. This is the unbridled arrogance of BJP.”
बोम्मई सरकार का महिलाओं को दीपावली तोहफ़ा…
मंत्री अबला महिला को सरेआम थप्पड़ मारते है
महिला थप्पड़ से ज़मीन पर गिर जाती है
माफ़ी माँगने की बजाय मंत्री, वी.सोमन्ना महिला को पुलिस से बाहर फिंकवा देते हैं।
मोदी जी, अब क्या कहेंगे?
— Randeep Singh Surjewala (@rssurjewala) October 23, 2022
Posting the video on the social media website, Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh wrote in Kannada, “What a difference from the way @RahulGandhi began the Karnataka leg of #BharatJodoYatra from the very same Gundlupet on 30th September! This shameless person should be dismissed from the cabinet immediately!”
What a difference from the way @RahulGandhi began the Karnataka leg of #BharatJodoYatra from the very same Gundlupet on 30th September! This shameless man should be sacked immediately! https://t.co/doPz27D0aH
— Jairam Ramesh (@Jairam_Ramesh) October 23, 2022
Youth Congress national president Srinivas BV said, “Is this Sanghi’s way to respect the ‘Nari shakti’ that the PM proclaims in his speeches?”
Congress national social media coordinator Lavanya Ballal tweeted: “The BJP Minister V Somanna slaps a woman who came to him seeking help. How will voters find solutions for their problem of ministers behave like this?”
Saying that the “anti-woman mindset of the ‘BJP-RSS’” was “captured live on camera”, the All India Mahila Congress said on Twitter, “Will @narendramodi ji – who lectures on respecting women, take action against own?”
The party’s national spokesperson Shama Mohamed said, ‘‘BJP Karnataka Minister @VSOMANNA_BJP slaps a woman in full public view. This is the sickening behaviour of BJP leaders towards women. No wonder this is the same party that allows rapists & murderers to leave jail prematurely!”
BJP Karnataka Minister @VSOMANNA_BJP slaps a woman in full public view. This is the sickening behaviour of BJP leaders towards women. No wonder this is the same party that allows rapists & murderers to leave jail prematurely!
— Dr. Shama Mohamed (@drshamamohd) October 23, 2022
Sharing the video, Telangana Rashtra Samithi’s (TRS) social media coordinator Y Sathish Reddy said, “This is the respect ‘BJP’ has towards Women.”
Saying that the “Ministry of Women and Child Development” and the “National Commission for women ” were silent, Shiv Sena MP Priyanka Chaturvedi said, “BJP Minister. Karnataka. Likely Explanation: Not a slap on the face but blessings on the cheek. @MinistryWCD mute, @NCWIndia silent. Nothing to see here, no action to expect.”
(With inputs from PTI)