A group of BJP workers in New Delhi on Thursday jostled former Tehelka managing editor Shoma Chaudhury and even defaced the nameplate outside her Saket residence, the act inviting sharp criticism from various quarters, including from the party's leadership.
BJP leader Vijay Jolly writes 'accused' on the nameplate at the residence of former editor of Tehelka magazine Shoma Chaudhury, in New Delhi. (HT Photo)
Led by Delhi BJP leader Vijay Jolly, the protesters not only painted the word 'accused' on Chaudhury's nameplate, some of them also went on to surround and jostle the journalist as she was leaving her house.
And, when police personnel tried to escort Chaudhury to her car, the animated BJP leader even tried to climb on to the vehicle.
The incident received wide condemnation and BJP distanced itself from the protesters with senior party leader Sushma Swaraj saying their act was "not civilised".
Swaraj, and former BJP president Nitin Gadkari, said the protest was carried out by the workers in their personal capacity and the party had nothing to do with it.
Necessary action would be taken against those involved in the protest, they added. BJP will seek an explanation from Jolly on the issue and take necessary action, both averred.
"(BJP) has nothing to do with the incident. I can never endorse it and agree with it... It is not in line with the party's ideology and, at the same time, it is not civilised.
"We can register our protest in a civilised manner, but it was not done in a civilised manner and I condemn it," said Swaraj.
During the protest, the BJP workers demanded that Chaudhury be immediately arrested for allegedly trying to cover up the sexual harassment complaint filed against Tehelka Editor Tarun Tejpal by a junior colleague.
Speaking during the protest, Jolly said, "My head hangs in shame. She (Chaudhury) did not stand in support of her colleague and, for the past one week, has been trying to suppress the complaint and the facts in the case.
"It was at least expected that she would report the matter immediately to police. She should have also asked Tejpal to submit himself to the law... None of that happened," Jolly added.
Chaudhury resigned early this morning from Tehelka. There is speculation that she, too, may be named in the FIR for certain acts of commission and omission after the alleged offence became public.
Jolly's statement failed to convince opinion on Twitter.
"Vijay Jolly achieves his primary objective of trending on Twitter," tweeted the TheUnRealTimes.
Another Twitter user, Rahul Roushan tweeted, "Vijay Jolly will atone for his act and lacerate himself by painting all houses in his colony over the next six months."
"Vijay Jolly hectoring that cop outside Shoma Chaudhury's residence is just what you expect from an Indian politician," tweeted @babumoshoy
Priya Narang, a civil services aspirant, tweeted, "Delhi women will now feel safe.. Thanks to Vijay Jolly who proved yet again that #BJP is a party full of gundas."
Jolly's methods of protest invited criticism from various journalists as well. Rajdeep Sardesai, editor-in-chief of CNN-IBN tweeted, "And Mr Vijay Jolly, go get a life. Had a pumpkin yday in Naresh Aggarwal, today its you!".
Rana Ayyub, a former Tehelka journalist, who resigned following the the sexual harassment issue also tweeted on the incident. "Hope the nations channel will outrage on Vijay Jolly's disgusting, criminal act tonight!" she wrote. (@RanaAyyub)
Jolly did seem to find some support as well.
"Every feminist and liberal comes out of their rat hole to condemn Vijay Jolly, they were missing when Tarun Tejpal molested a woman," tweeted Ankit Jain. (@indiantweeter)
Senior BJP leaders Sushma Swaraj and Nitin Gadkari distanced themselves from Jolly's protest.
Gadkari, former BJP president, said, "It was a personal reaction and the party has got nothing to do with it. We will enquire into it and take appropriate action."
Swaraj, while condemning Jolly's action, said and the BJP president will take necessary action. "Jolly had mentioned this to Arun Jaitley ji and I but we had immediately told him that this was not acceptable and our party doesn't protest in such a manner. But he still went ahead with it. I condemn his action," she said.
Jolly, in an interview to CNN-IBN this evening, justified his protest. "There is no question of being ashamed (for the protest). I didn't do for personal fame--I have nothing personal against Shoma Chaudhury or Tarun Tejpal," he told the channel.
Delhi police filed a case against Jolly and Chaudhury too is supposed to have complained against him before the National Commission for Women.
(With PTI inputs)
Here are some more tweets: