In election year, Rajasthan Congress in the dock (Rajasthan Newsletter)
Scandals involving ministers and legislators have rocked the Congress in Rajasthan, a state which will vote for a new assembly before the end of this year.
With former minister Mahipal Maderana and legislator Malkhan Vishnoi already in jail for around one and a half years on charges of kidnapping and murdering nurse Bhanwari Devi, another minister who has now resigned, Babulal Nagar, has put the Ashok Gehlot government in the dock.
A woman has registered a case against Nagar, accusing him of raping her.
A first information report (FIR) was registered on September 17 against Nagar, the minister of state for dairy and rural industries, under Sections 376 (rape) and 323 (causing hurt) of the Indian Penal Code at the Sodala police station here. The case was subsequently handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
"Nagar called me to his residence on the pretext of providing a job. He took me to a room where he beat me and raped me on September 11," the woman has alleged.
Though Nagar, a legislator from the Dudu constituency, denied the charges and said that he was being framed in a political conspiracy, the repercussions are being felt in the state.
The opposition BJP is not losing any chance to rake up the issue in a big way.
State BJP president and former chief minister Vasundhara Raje said that this indicated the condition of women in the state.
"If the chief Minister has any shame left, he should resign immediately," Raje said in a statement.
Meanwhile, another Congress legislator, Udai Lal Anjana, has been accused by a 45-year-old woman of sexually exploiting her on the pretext of marrying her.
The police started investigating the case late last week after an additional district court ordered the police to register a case of sexual exploitation.
"It is a political conspiracy and I deny all the charges. I request the government to conduct and finish the inquiry before the elections. I have full faith in the law of the land and am sure that I will come clean out of it," said Anjana who is a legislator from the Nimbahera constituency in Chittorgarh district.
"All these cases coming up before state assembly elections do not augur well for the Congress party which already is fighting anti-incumbency," said political analyst M.K. Sharma.
"Gehlot really faces an uphill task in the assembly polls as he is not only fighting the anti-incumbency factor but is also trying to fight with tarnishing of image of his ministers. The BJP will not leave any stone unturned to raise these issues in a big way before the polls," Sharma added.
Rajasthan, which has 200 assembly seats, goes to the polls before the end of the year.
(Anil Sharma can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
(Posted on 26-09-2013)