After his remarks on rape unleashed outrage, SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav today attempted damage control, saying no one respects women more than his party even as the National Commission for Women(NCW) sent a notice to him seeking an explanation.
Yadav, however, stuck to his stand that the new anti-rape law was "wrong" and should be amended so that innocents are not framed, as he faced more flak with RJD supremo Lalu Prasad saying he seems to have lost his "mental balance." Congress and BJP demanded an apology and that he withdraw the remarks.
In the midst of the ongoing Lok Sabha campaign, the former UP Chief Minister yesterday questioned the death penalty for rape, saying "mistakes" by boys happen sometimes, sparking outrage among rival parties and women's groups.
"Should rape cases be punished with hanging?, he asked, questioning the death sentence to three youths who were convicted for two gangrapes in Mumbai last week.
"Today there is nobody in the country who respects women more than Samajwadi Party," the SP supremo said, seeking to clarify his controversial remarks.
At the same time, he said, "We will not let the wrong (anti-rape) law to continue..."Unfazed by a wave of denunciations, Yadav maintained that there was a need to change the new anti-rape law so that those misusing it are punished.
At his poll rallies in Sambhal and Badaun in Uttar Pradesh, he said there was a debate going on the world over on the issue of capital punishment and several countries have banned it. "There should be debate on the same in India also."
"We will not let the wrong law to continue...all those lodging fake cases and who are behind them should get punishment," he said, adding that there are several people facing life sentences.
Advocating that those who file fake rape reports needed to be "severely punished", Yadav said "sternest of actions" should be taken in rape cases, but innocents should not be framed.
"What have I said wrong? Whosoever lodges fake report should be punished. Today there is a debate going on in the country on my remarks and it is good as results would come out of such debates in democracy...people have started talking in my favour on this issue," he said.
The NCW also sent a letter to the Election Commission of India to take cognizance of the matter and take action to curb such incidents in future.
Observing that Yadav's remarks were highly irresponsible, NCW Chairman Mamta Sharma said, "We have issued a notice to Mulayam Singh Yadav over his remarks on rape. It was highly irresponsible statement coming from a public fighure like him and he should publicly apologise to all the women of the country."