When Union minister of state for chemicals and fertilisers Nihalchand Meghwal, who has been accused of rape by a 24-year-old woman, was asked by the media if he will resign, he retorted: “Why should I give my resignation?” Such bluster comes obviously from the fact that nothing has been proved against him to date and the BJP has backed him till now. The victim had filed the case against Mr Meghwal in 2010 but it went in his favour after a police investigation found him not guilty in 2012. However, the victim filed a review petition in 2013 and the court has now issued summons to the minister and 17 other accused in the case, asking them to respond to the charges by August 20.
Speaking to the media, the 24-year-old victim has claimed that Mr Meghwal’s henchmen have been putting pressure on her to withdraw the case. She has demanded a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the resignation of the cabinet minister.
While the Jaipur case is a latest addition to the long list of incidents of violence against women, the cycle of events that follow such cases is more or less similar: Rape, shoddy police investigation, intimidation of victims and then politicisation of the case. The Congress, as the BJP had done when it was in the Opposition, has picked up this issue and demanded the minister’s resignation. The party has also protested outside the BJP headquarters in Delhi, accusing the BJP of speaking up only when cases like these happen in Uttar Pradesh (after the Badaun cases) and keeping mum when similar crimes happen in party-ruled states of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.
The BJP, surprisingly, even at the cost of tarnishing its image, has said no to the demand for a resignation, saying that in December 2012, the police, under the Congress-led Rajasthan government, filed a closure report and that the same was accepted by the metropolitan magistrate in 2014. This official communication is now five days old. When it was in the Opposition, the BJP was always quick to demand the resignation of Congress ministers at the first whiff of corruption and even before any probe indicted them. Remember how they hounded Ashwini Kumar and Pawan Kumar Bansal even before any probe had indicted them? If this is the principle the party followed then, it should stick to it now as well. Instead of keeping shut and digging their heels in, the NDA must prove that it has zero tolerance towards crimes against women and does what is morally right: Fast-track the case and ask Mr Meghwal to step down till his name is cleared.