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BJP MLA Ram Kadam apologises for his ‘kidnap girls’ statement

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA from Ghatkopar, Ram Kadam, issued a public apology on Wednesday evening

mumbai Updated: Sep 06, 2018 00:48 IST
HT Correspondents
HT Correspondents
Hindustan Times
Ram Kadam,Mumbai,Dahi handi
BJP MLA Ram Kadam (Hindustan Times)

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA from Ghatkopar, Ram Kadam, issued a public apology on Wednesday evening, a day after his remarks at a dahi handi festival in Mumbai, where he said he would help boys get married by kidnapping the girls who reject them.

“A part of my address during a Janmashtami event is being spread as a video,” Kadam said in a clip on his Twitter handle, both in Marathi and Hindi. “I am not going into the details, as my respect for mothers and sisters is most important for me. Without any further clarification, I humbly apologise for what I said.”

Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis is believed to have asked Kadam to issue an unconditional apology, after both Kadam and the BJP were criticised by other political parties and rights activists for his remarks that were widely shared on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, BJP’s ally Shiv Sena said the party should take action against Kadam, while the Congress demanded Kadam’s membership in the Assembly be cancelled.

Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray asked if the BJP has launched a new campaign, “Beti Bhagao”.

“Action must be taken against those who insult our mothers and sisters,” Thackeray said. “The BJP, I think, has started a ‘Beti Bhagao Campaign’ instead of ‘Beti Bachao’. I believe strong action should be taken against Kadam and the chief minister should look into it. He should not be given a party ticket by any political party.”

A group of women workers from the Nationalist Congress Party staged a protest outside Kadam’s home in Ghatkopar, while another group from the party gheraoed education minister Vinod Tawde and dairy development minister Mahadev Jankar while they were in Satara, Western Maharashtra. In Pune, women groups from the Raj Thackeray-led MNS also held protests against Kadam.

Chitra Wagh, NCP’s state women’s wing chief, who headed the campaign against Tawde and Jankar, said Kadam should be expelled from the BJP. “Earlier, BJP MLC Prashant Paricharak’s, and now Kadam’s statements, show the BJPs thoughts about women,” Wagh said, referring to Paricharak’s March 2017 remark during a poll campaign, when he said soldiers posted at the borders distribute sweets when their babies are born, even though they have not gone home in a year.

MNS spokesperson Nitin Sardesai said Kadam defended his statements on news channels as though he meant what he said. “It was a ridiculous statement and we demand strong action against him,” he said.

Within the BJP too, the state leadership made it clear they were upset with the statements of the Ghatkopar MLA, who is close to Fadnavis. The party is said to have asked for a clarification from him, along with a copy of the full video of his controversial speech, a senior BJP leader said, requesting not to be named.

No leader from the party was ready to speak about the issue on record.

Kadam had earlier expressed regret for his remarks, but said he was being quoted out of context. “I regret if someone’s feelings have got hurt with my statement. I was quoted out of context by my opponents, who deliberately shared only 54 seconds from the speech. The journalists present at the event did not object to the statement as they have heard my entire speech,” Kadam said in a tweet late on Tuesday.

However, as the protests against him spread, an irked Fadnavis asked the legislator to issue an unconditional apology to end the controversy. The women activists however have been demanding legal action against Kadam.

Kadam was first elected in 2009, on an MNS ticket. Soon after, he was suspended, along with three other MNS MLAs, for assaulting Samajwadi Party (SP) MLA Abu Asim Azmi for not taking his oath in Marathi . The suspension was revoked eight months later. Just before the Assembly elections in 2014, Kadam shifted loyalties to the BJP and was re-elected as a BJP MLA. Later, he was appointed as one of the party’s spokespersons.

First Published: Sep 06, 2018 00:48 IST