For Once, Can Centre And State Join Hands On Prajwal?

Smita Mishra

May 03, 2024, 03:46 PM | Updated 03:52 PM IST

JD(S) MP Prajwal Revanna.
JD(S) MP Prajwal Revanna.
  • This is not just about justice to the victims. It will signal that somewhere, the idea of ‘good politics’ is not dead. 
  • No matter how unreal it sounds, there are close to three thousand video clips circulating on people’s devices of Prajwal Revanna with ‘hundreds’ of women who allegedly suffered harassment at his hands.

    Prajwal’s lawyer has argued emphatically that if all the videos were genuine, it would have taken his client more than 10 years to get there! Meanwhile, his headline-making client has requested from abroad to be allowed a weeks’ time to be back. 

    Prajwal’s escape out of India is currently the biggest point for a political slugfest between the Congress ruling in Karnataka and the BJP which is in alliance with JDS.

    Congress’ charge is that BJP was informed of Prajwal’s shameful conduct well in time and yet the party allowed its ally JDS to renominate the fellow from Haasan. The BJP’s central and state leaders shot back saying there was no question of giving a ticket to Prajwal if they had known about the videos. They reiterated their stand of zero-tolerance for such crimes.

    The party’s top brass tried to throw the ball back into the Congress court accusing the party of deliberate inaction, despite the administration knowing about the videos, just to avoid antagonising the Vokkaliga votebank. It is relevant to mention here that while Janata Dal (Secular), JDS, enjoys the ‘first right’ on Vokkaliga votes in Karnataka, D K Shivakumar of the Congress is also an influential leader from the same caste. 

    In this entire ‘you did it’ vs ‘no, you did it’ blame game, there is hardly any talk of the hapless women who must have gone through the agony of sexual exploitation but also the humiliation of being videographed and now suffer the shame in silence. Even if one considers Prajwal’s lawyer’s argument that so many videos defy any basic practical logic, women have definitely been used by both sides to further their political agendas. 

    To appear pro-active, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah demanded the cancellation of Prajwal’s passport. The External Affairs Ministry clarified that such an order has not been received by any competent court yet. There is little point in second-guessing when Prajwal will return to India and face the law because none of us really know it. 

    To cut it short, an SIT has already been constituted and should be allowed to investigate the sleazy crime with a free hand. If Prajwal’s contention that he has been framed is true then he must get back as soon as possible and join the investigation to prove his innocence.

    Expectedly, the issue has widened in the media narrative to rope in notorious cases of sexual harassment of women perpetrated by influential politicians. The most recent, of course, is the Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh case against women wrestlers.

    Singh has been dropped as a Lok Sabha candidate from Kaiserganj but he is not exactly ‘out’ because BJP has given the ticket to his son Karan. If Congress has the Brij Bhushan handle against BJP, the latter is raising cases of Mewaram, instances of women being ousted on complaining against B V Srinivas and most importantly about the Congress central leadership’s silence on Sandeshkhali horror.  

    So will the Prajwal Revanna case also come and go like so many others in the past and fade away from public memory as fresher headlines take over? Or can it become a turning point whereby complaints of crimes against women are not dealt with solely from the party prism, like other political issues?

    The answer is difficult and perhaps negative too. But Prajwal Revanna’s case can be a golden opportunity for the BJP in the centre and Congress in the state to join hands, even if it is as a ‘pilot project.’ This is not just about giving justice to the victims which should be the primary concern. It can also serve as a milestone to instil confidence in the minds of the ‘Adhi Abaadi’ which our political class likes to talk about so much. 

    If there has been foul play, an independent, unbiased SIT should be allowed to unearth the conspiracy without political interference. If Prajwal Revanna is totally or even partially guilty, there should be stringent action, sooner rather than later. The respect of the NDA leadership will get a surge in the eyes of all citizens, especially women. 

    The Siddaramaiah government will also manage to salvage the damage it has suffered because of its attitude in the recent Neha Hiremath brutal murder. More than anything else, it will signal that somewhere, in a little corner, the idea of ‘good politics’ is still alive and not dead. Is that too much to ask for? 

    The author is a journalist and Adviser, Prasar Bharati.

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