The BJP, which frequently speaks out against opponents fielding candidates accused of sexual assault, is facing a crisis in its own ranks.
New Delhi: The tagline on its official website describes the BJP as “the party with a difference”. The party never misses an opportunity to talk about its high ideals and cultural ethos. This also reflects in the BJP’s criticism of other parties’ activists and leaders whenever it perceives them to be in the wrong. Of late, the party has been speaking out against its opponents for giving assembly election candidate tickets to criminals, including some accused of rape. In the past also, the BJP has often taken a moral high stand on such matters.
Only recently, the BJP raised a hue and cry over the Samajwadi Party fielding UP minister Gayatri Prasad Prajapati in the state’s assembly elections – despite his being accused in a gang rape case, which required the Supreme Court’s intervention to even be registered.
Similarly, the BJP also pressured the Congress into ousting its Bihar vice president, Brajesh Kumar, as his name figured in a sexual exploitation case filed by the daughter of a former party minister.
Given this context, the BJP finds itself in a spot now that its former Delhi MLA, Vijay Jolly is facing allegations of rape. Jolly has been accused by another party activist of sedating and raping her at a motel in Gurugram on February 10. In the FIR, registered at the women’s police station, the survivor has claimed that the crime took place at Apno Ghar motel on NH-8 when she had gone there for a party meeting.
Recalling the incident, the woman complained: “I’m member of a BJP study group and have known Jolly for three years. There was a meeting in a motel on February 10, and he offered me a lift. Trusting him as a senior leader, I went along. We reached the motel around 1:30pm, sat in the lobby for a while. He then took me to a room where he ordered tomato soup. After taking a few sips of the soup, I started feeling giddy and fell unconscious. When I woke up, I was lying on [the] bed, naked and alone. I rushed to the bathroom, washed and dressed up. I meet Jolly in the motel lobby at around 3:30pm and told him what he had done was very bad, and asked him to take me home. I took a lift in his car, but got down midway at the Adchini traffic signal near Mehrauli, and reached home in Delhi on an auto. Later, I went to confront him, but he threatened me and turned me away. That’s when I confessed to my husband, who approached [the] police.”
Jolly was subsequently booked for rape, poisoning and criminal intimidation.
Jolly who was the Saket MLA and former convener of the BJP’s overseas cell, claimed that the rape allegation is the fallout from a failed extortion attempt. According to him, the allegation is an attempt to blackmail him and that he had already filed a complaint with the police on February 17.
In fact, the media had reported then that Jolly had accused a party worker and her husband of trying to extort money from him. He had told the police that the woman met him sometime between February 11 and 14 and sought money from him for her husband’s treatment. Subsequently, he gave her Rs 20,000 but she kept demanding Rs 15 lakh and threatened to implicate him if the amount was not paid.
Incidentally, this is not the first time that a BJP leader has been accused of such a heinous crime in Delhi’s National Capital Region. There have been at least three similar incidents in the last three years.
In January 2015, the Gurugram MLA, Umesh Agarwal, and two others were also accused of drugging and raping a woman who had later lodged a complaint at the Hari Nagar police station in west Delhi. She had also accused a friend, who is a woman, of abetting the rape.
But in October the same year, the woman made a U-turn in the case when she denied having been raped and claimed, during an recorded court proceeding, that she had lodged the complaint as there was a financial dispute between her and another woman who was a friend of hers, who had also been named as an accused in the original complaint.
In this case, the woman had initially claimed that she was raped by the three accused in a Faridabad hotel. However, later she stated that her friend had borrowed Rs 50,000 from her and was not returning it and so she had gone to the hotel to recover her money.
The woman stated that her female friend had introduced her to Aggarwal who gave Rs 1 lakh to her friend but the latter had refused to hand over the amount to her. The woman said that she decided to lodge the complaint after Agarwal verbally abused her and she received a threatening call the day after they met.
A trial court issued a bailable warrant against the woman complainant in late December 2015 as she did not appear in court to record her testimony.
While these two cases bear an uncanny resemblance to each other, in the third such case – reported in October 2015 – a 36-year-old mother of two had accused the BJP’s deputy mayor of Gurugram, Parminder Kataria, of raping her on the pretext of promising to marry her.
The woman told the police that Kataria had promised her a job in the Municipal Corporation of Gurgaon (MCG) and had repeatedly sexually harassed her. She also accused the BJP leader and two of his associates of criminal intimidation as they threatened her and told her not to report the matter to the police.
Two months later, the same woman filed a rape complaint with the police alleging that Kataria had visited her house and sexually assaulted her.
Despite her complaint, Kataria is alleged to have kept stalking her. In February 2016, he was booked for beating up the same woman. In this complaint, the woman stated that three men in a car had blocked her way while she was on her way home. Later, she said three men had entered her house and beaten her up, threatening her with dire consequences if she did not drop the rape case against Kataria.
From all these incidents, it has become quite clear that BJP leaders are as susceptible to the unhealthy mix of power, sex, exploitation and violence as the leaders of many of the parties it attacks are. The Jolly episode is just one more entry in this endless saga.