BJP expels Kuldeep Singh Sengar amid outrage
Demands for Sengar’s removal from the party had mounted after a road accident last Sunday killed two female relatives of the rape survivor and her lawyer and her battling for their lives.
Roughly a year after he was charged with the rape of a minor, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Thursday expelled four-time MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar.
Demands for Sengar’s removal from the party had mounted after a road accident last Sunday killed two female relatives of the rape survivor and her lawyer and her battling for their lives. The woman’s family has alleged that Sengar and his associates orchestrated the accident and have issued numerous threats.
“The BJP has expelled MLA Kuldeep Sengar from the party,” said Chandra Mohan, state spokesperson of the BJP, in the evening. Uttar Pradesh BJP chief Swatantra Dev Singh confirmed to news agency ANI that the “central leadership” of the party had expelled the rape accused lawmaker.
Sengar, 52, a four-time legislator from Bangarmau in Unnao district, was suspended from the party in 2018 when the charges against him first attracted nationwide attention.
A BJP leader in Delhi said that Sengar’s expulsion became inevitable after the Supreme Court took strong view on the matter during a hearing earlier in the day. “The matter had become an embarrassment for the party,” the aforementioned leader said on condition of anonymity.
“The party had, anyway, nothing to do with him, but an impression was being created that we were defending a rape accused. We have zero tolerance to such issues.”
The day was marked by political drama and confusion over whether Sengar had been expelled with a two-line statement issued by the BJP only late in the evening. The expulsion is unlikely to impact his position as a member of the UP assembly.
Sengar first won the assembly elections in 2002 on a Bahujan Samaj Party ticket. He then switched to the Samajwadi Pary and won two successive assembly elections with the party in 2007 and 2012. Ahead of the 2017 assembly polls, he switched to the BJP and won from Bangarmau.
The Opposition said the BJP should have expelled Sengar earlier. “It was only after the BJP had no option left that they expelled him after much delay,” said Rajendra Chaudhary, state spokesperson of the Samajwadi Party.
“BJP should have expelled Kuldeep Sengar long back from the party. Had he been expelled earlier it would have saved the party from embarrassment it is facing today,” said Kaushal Kishore Mishra, a professor of political science at the Banaras Hindu University.
Sengar’s expulsion came on a day three police personnel deputed for the security of the survivor were suspended for negligence. Unnao Police’s public relations officer Mukul Prakash Verma said gunner Sudesh Kumar and constables Ruby Patel and Sunita Devi were suspended because they were deputed to accompany the woman wherever she went. He added that they were not accompanying her when the road crash took place on Sunday.
Verma said six other police personnel were deployed for security at her residence in Unnao.
Additional director general (Lucknow range) Rajeev Krishna, who met the survivor and her family members at a Lucknow hospital, said the three police personnel did not accompany her as they were asked to stay back due to lack of space in the car. He added that they still need to inquire properly as to why the security personnel did not accompany her despite being aware of risks to her life.
(with inputs from Rohit K Singh)