In a major embarrassment for the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 'beti bachao, beto padao' programme, a party legislator's comments on abducting girls for suitors has sparked off a major political issue in Maharashtra.
The BJP MLA, Ram Kadam, not only landed himself in trouble but also the party for the comments - which earned a rebuke on the social media.
“You need anything, just come to me… If you have proposed to a girl and she has rejected you, I will help you… 100 per cent. Come to me with your parents and say that they approve of her. Then, I will catch her and bring her to you,” Kadam was seen saying in a video that went viral.
Kadam's comments came on Monday evening during the dahi-handi celebrations, that he organises in a big way in Ghatkopar central suburbs of Mumbai.
Even as BJP found it difficult to counter, political parties Congress, NCP and Shiv Sena lashed out at him.
“I had no intentions to hurt anybody’s sentiments, but if I have done so, I regret it. Certain opponents are behind this misunderstanding,” Kadam said in a tweet and apologised, however, it had no impact.
Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray demanded a ban on him.“Not only should strict action be taken against him, he should not be given a ticket by any party to contest future elections… He is a person of a low character and mentality,” Thackeray said.
Taking a snide at the BJP, he said: “I am not aware whether the BJP has launched a ‘Beti Bhagao’ programme… But if anybody speaks like this about our sisters and daughters, we will not tolerate it."
This is Kadam's second term as an MLA. Previously he was associated with Raj Thackeray-led MNS. Maharashtra State Women’s Commission Chairperson Dr Vijaya Rahatkar took exception to the statement of Kadam. “Kadam has claimed that his statement was manipulated. Even if that is true, such utterances on womenfolk are unbecoming. He and all other public representatives must be extremely vigilant before speaking out such things,” Rahatkar said.
Maharashtra Congress President and former Chief Minister Ashok Chavan said, on one hand, the BJP speaks of ‘beti bachao, beti padhao’ and on the other, its legislators speak of abducting women. “Has the BJP made him a legislator to kidnap women…?” Chavan said.
NCP spokesperson and former Labour Minister Nawab Malik compared the MLA to Ravana. "The BJP’s ‘Ravana’ face has emerged… He (Ram Kadam) is talking about kidnapping women, so henceforth he should be called ‘Ravana Kadam’.”
"Even though he is named after ‘Ram’, his thoughts are like ‘Ravana’," said Shiv Sena spokesperson Neelam Gorhe. “BJP supports Kathua, Unnao
rape accused," and now its MLA’s speech is a clear indicator that its ‘beti bachao, beti padhao’ campaign is a jumla," said Samajwadi Party MLA Abu Asim Azmi.