Hyderabad: At a time when the vicious sexual attack on a woman in Delhi has brought angry people out onto the streets to protest the manner in which women are regarded and treated, Pradesh Congress Committee president Botsa Satyanarayana chose to make belittling comments relating to the gang-rape incident.
A few minutes later, he withdrew his remarks and apologised, but that was done to limit the political fallout of his comments.
Speaking to newspersons at Gandhi Bhavan, the PCC president made light of the gang-rape incident in Delhi by calling it “a small incident”.
Following the all-too-common trend to blame the woman rather than her attackers, he said: “Just because the country attained independence at midnight, is it proper for women moving at midnight? That particular woman (the Delhi rape victim) should have applied her mind before boarding the private bus. Anyway, it was a small incident. But Congress president Sonia Gandiji with her kind and big heart held talks with student leaders who were agitating for the last three days over the incident and tried to pacify them.”
After he returned to his chambers, where he continued to chat informally with newspersons, he received a call on his mobile from a woman who asked him about his comment on curtailing the movements of women at night, and said it was being prominently carried by all Telugu news channels.
'‘Small’ remark was unintended'
It was the adverse publicity rather than any change of heart that sent Pradesh Congress Committee president Botsa Satyanarayana racing to hold another press conference at which he said that it was not his intention to insult or pass remarks or make any insinuations against women. He appealed to the media not to highlight it.
He also corrected his statement calling the gang rape a small issue, and said it is a serious and major incident that is to be condemned by one and all.
Regarding his comments on women moving around at midnight, he clarified that his intention was to say that women should freely move even at midnight or in the wee hours.
He appealed to women not to get agitated over his earlier remarks since he has withdrawn the remarks. He said he only reacted as a father, which neither makes sense nor excuses the original remarks which reflect what many politicians have said in the past too and explains why the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill 2012 currently before Parliament is such an ineffective piece of legislation.
Later at night, he issued a statement saying: “My intention was not to hurt anybody. I strongly condemned the rape issue and demanded that the culprits be brought to book. I regret if my comments hurt anybody.”