BJP MLA who backed Kathua rape accused is minister, Deputy CM says minor incident
Rajiv Jasrotia, a BJP leader took oath today as a minister in the Jammu and Kashmir cabinet, along with seven other leaders — but his swearing-in comes mired in a controversy.
Jasrotia was among those who attended a rally organised by the Hindu Ekta Manch in defence of the Kathua gang rape and murder accused. The same rally, where two former BJP ministers Lal Singh and CP Ganga were spotted — who later tendered their resignations.
The rape of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua’s Rasana village, which sparked outrage across the country, is a “minor issue” and giving the case “too much importance” is “not the right thing” to do, according to J&K’s new Deputy Chief Minister and BJP leader Kavinder Gupta.
Gupta, who replaced Nirmal Singh, is a first-time MLA from Gandhi Nagar but an old BJP and RSS hand. He has served as Jammu mayor for three terms, between 2005 and 2010.
Speaking to reporters after his swearing-in Monday, Gupta said, “Yeh ek choti si baat hai Rasana. Is prakar ki ghatna dobara kabhi na ho, iss par humein vichar karna hai. Uss bacchi ko nyay mile, aise bahut se challenges sarkar ke samne hain. Mujhe lagta hai ki Rasana case ko hum itna bhav deke hum thik nahin kar rahe hain (Rasana is a small issue. We should think about ensuring that such incidents do not recur. Ensuring that the girl gets justice is among the challenges before the government. I feel that by giving so much importance to Rasana, we are not doing the right thing).”
On Monday, among the eight legislators inducted to the Council were BJP state president Sat Sharma and Kathua MLA Rajiv Jasrotia. Rajiv Jasrotia’s representation is being looked at as a signal to core BJP voters and party cadre, who were resentful after the party high command forced ministers Lal Singh and Chander Prakash Ganga to resign for participating in a rally in support of the rape-accused in the Kathua case, that the party still stands by them.
Not missing the opportunity, former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah attacked the BJP-PDP government in the state.
2 BJP ministers removed in J&K for attending a pro-rapist rally & a MLA who is reported to have attended the same rally is promoted as a minister. Why are the BJP/ @MehboobaMufti confused about where they stand on the #Kathua rape?
— Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) April 30, 2018
Refusing to speak on Jasrotia’s appointment in wake of the Kathua gangrape-murder, BJP General Secretary Ram Madhav said, “Can’t comment on this, the matter is sub-judice.”
But on two BJP ministers stepping down after the gruesome incident, he added, “Party did not want CP Ganga and Lal Singh to step down. They resigned because media created an impression that they were supporting the rape accused.”
With the latest reshuffle, the PDP and BJP have filled the quota of 25 members in the Council of Ministers. The PDP has 12 Cabinet ministers and two ministers of state. The BJP has nine Cabinet ministers and two ministers of state.