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Karnataka Sex Scandal: BJP, JD(S) in Fire Fighting Mode

Karnataka Sex Scandal: BJP, JD(S) in Fire Fighting Mode

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Manas Dasgupta

NEW DELHI, Apr 29: The BJP and the Janata Dal (Secular) having formed an alliance in Karnataka have got into firefighting mode after the revelation of alleged sex scandal JD(S) incumbent MP and candidate for the Hassan Lok Sabha seat Prajwal Revanna and the Congress government in the state forming a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe into the complaint.

The scandal broke last week after a woman filed a police case against Mr Revanna, accusing him of sexual assault. The case was filed at a police station in his constituency. She alleged she had been sexually abused multiple times between 2019 and 2022. The clips circulating show more women and they are likely to come forward to file cases too.

HD Revanna, the father of accused MP Prajwal Revanna, has charged the rivals of creating a conspiracy out of “old videos,” a comment that is likely to raise a bigger row over his son’s alleged link to the obscene videos. Prajwal Revanna is seeking a fresh term in the Lok Sabha from as a National Democratic Alliance (NDA) candidate from Hassan.

On Sunday, a first information report was filed against the father-son duo on charges of sexual harassment, intimidation and outraging the dignity of a woman. The survivor alleged both sexually assaulted her, and when Revanna’s wife was not home, he touched her inappropriately and used to sexually assault her. The complainant alleged Prajwal Revanna also misbehaved with her daughter over a video call. “My daughter blocked his number after repeated calls,” the complainant said.

The row has snowballed into a political squabble between the JDS and the BJP, with some of the national party’s leaders distancing themselves from the state party and calling for a rethink. S Prakash, the BJP state unit’s chief spokesperson, said, “We, as a party, have nothing to do with the videos and neither do we have any comments to make…”

Prajwal Revanna, the Janata Dal (Secular) MP and grandson of former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda, has denied the latest allegations and also filed a police complaint over circulation of obscene videos, which he claimed were morphed. Prajwal Revanna left for Germany on Saturday morning after voting in the Lok Sabha elections a day earlier.

“I know what kind of conspiracy is going on. I am not someone who’ll get scared and run away. They have released something that was 4-5 years old. Expelling him from the party is left to the party high command,” HD Revanna said. When it was pointed out that an FIR has been registered against him too, he said, “There is politics, I don’t want to comment. They (Congress) are in government and they will do whatever they want.”

“All these things are not just today, the Deve Gowda family in the last 40 years (has been targeted by) Congress. CoD (now CID), Lokayukta probe, we have been facing for the last 40 years… I don’t want to react to anything…let them take action in accordance with law,” he said, adding that he hasn’t spoken to Deve Gowda on the issue. “Since the special investigation team is looking into the case, I will not react any further,” HD Revanna said.

Janata Dal (Secular) lawmaker Sharangouda Kandkur has demanded the suspension of Prajwal Revanna. In a two-page letter made public Monday morning, Mr Kandkur told party patriarch and former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda the JDS had been left “embarrassed by the circulating videos, and it damages the reputation of both you and your party.”

The JDS, which has allied with the BJP has refused to comment pending a complete inquiry.  However, senior party leader and former Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy – who is Mr Deve Gowda’s son – said there could be no question of forgiving anyone who had committed a crime.

He also said the party had nothing to do with Mr Revanna apparently fleeing the country. “If he has gone to a foreign country getting him back is their (the special investigative team) responsibility. What should I say… SIT will get him, don’t worry.”

Distancing himself from the episode, he clarified that he was in no way connected to the alleged conduct of Prajwal Revanna. “Point to the individual who is facing the allegation. Don’t blame the family. H.D. Revanna and his family are separate. I don’t keep track of his movements,” he said.

The ruling Congress, meanwhile, has also gotten involved, after reports some BJP leaders had told their party’s state boss, BY Vijayendra, of the clips back in December. They have questioned their rival’s decision to field Mr Revanna despite knowledge of the videos.

In a post in Hindi on X, senior Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi said, “The leader with whom the PM gets photographed by placing his hand on his shoulder. The leader for whom the PM himself campaigned 10 days ago. Praised him on stage. Today, that leader of Karnataka is absconding from the country.”

Fourteen of Karnataka’s 28 Lok Sabha seats, including Hassan, voted in the second phase last week. The remaining 14 are due to vote in the third phase on May 7, but the JDS is not contesting any of these seats. As per the seat-share agreement, the party – which broke from the Congress to join the BJP in October – fought only three in south Karnataka.


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