The government on Thursday ruled out removing Union minister Nihalchand Meghwal, a Rajasthan BJP leader whose name has figured in a rape case. As calls for Meghwal’s dismissal grew, the government stood by the beleaguered minister and asked BJP spokespersons to defend him on media platforms.
Finance minister Arun Jaitley met spokespersons and TV panelists of the BJP at his North Block Office on Thursday and briefed them about the case, saying it was based frivolous on charges.
Meghwal has been charged with raping a 20-year-old woman who filed a complaint, accusing her husband and his friends, including the Union minister, of sexual assault.
“He (Nihalchand) will not be removed,” BJP spokesperson Syed Shahnawaz Hussain said after the meeting with Jaitley. The former civil aviation minister said Meghwal’s name did not figure in the first FIR and a supplementary complaint in the case. The previous Congress regime, he said, had also filed a closure report in the matter and the alleged victim's decision to drag the minister's name was an afterthought.
Incidentally, National Commission for Women (NCW) chairperson Mamta Sharma, who was on Thursday asked to quit, said a couple of days back that she would write to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking the dismissal of the minister.
The Congress had on Wednesday stepped up its attack on Meghwal, saying it was a “shame” that a person charged with rape continued to be in the government and the BJP contended he was being “falsely implicated”.
Mahila Congress workers had also staged a protest outside the BJP headquarters in New Delhi, demanding resignation of the 43-year-old minister of state for chemicals and fertilisers.
“This shows the BJP's dual face. When there are rape cases in Uttar Pradesh, they demand President's rule but when crimes happen in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, they keep quiet,” Mahila Congress chief Shobha Oza said.
“If rape cases are normal for the BJP, then what kind of security have they promised for women? Prime Minister Narendra Modi had promised zero tolerance for crimes against women in Parliament. So, we want to ask him if this is zero tolerance.”