'Had no bad intention': Congress MLA Ramesh Kumar's defensive apology for rape comment

A few women Congress MLAs — Anjali Nimbalkar and Laxmi Hebbalkar — wanted to raise the issue but the Speaker did not allow them to do so and said, 'do not drag it further.'
Congress MLA Ramesh Kumar
Congress MLA Ramesh Kumar
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Senior Congress MLA and former Karnataka Assembly Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar, who had courted controversy by saying "when rape is inevitable, lie down and enjoy it", has made a defensive apology for his remark. Ramesh Kumar told the Karnataka assembly on Friday, December 17 that his remarks were taken out of context, but claimed that if his comment had hurt anyone, he is extending an apology.

As the proceedings of the Assembly began, Kumar stood up and said he made a statement in the Legislative Assembly on Thursday which drew outrage from all corners. “I didn't have any bad intentions,” he said, and claimed that his words were taken out of context. "What happens is what we talk and why we talk goes away and just a part is taken. Whatever it is, I won't go on the defensive. I don't have prestige (or ego). I come from a very common background. If what I have spoken has hurt anyone in the society, I don't have any embarrassment to ask sorry. I won't put any conditions. Confucius says, ‘to own a mistake ends up in a single mistake. To deny a mistake, amounts to multiple mistakes. A decision has been made that I have committed a mistake and even a judgement has been passed. So, I apologise," he said.

He also apologised to the Speaker Vishweshwar Hegde Kageri for his statement, which made him laugh and attracted criticism. The Speaker accepted the apology, but did not, however, offer any apology for laughing at Ramesh Kumar's joke. "We are all responsible to safeguard the dignity of the house. He has apologised, let's not bring the matter up in other places. However, a few women Congress MLAs Anjali Nimbalkar and Laxmi Hebbalkar wanted to raise the issue but the Speaker did not allow them to do so and said, "Do not drag it further".

Earlier, Kumar had tweeted in this regard after he drew widespread criticism. "I would like to express my sincere apologies to everyone for the indifferent and negligent comment I made in today's assembly about 'Rape!' My intention was not trivialise or make light of the heinous crime, but an off the cuff remark! I will choose my words carefully henceforth!" Ramesh Kumar tweeted.

During the discussions on rain and flood related damages in the Karnataka Assembly on Thursday, many MLAs wanted to speak to highlight the plight of people in their constituencies. Speaker Vishweshwar Hegde Kageri found himself in a fix as he wanted to wind up the discussion at the earliest whereas the MLAs were insisting on the time being extended. "I am in a situation where I have to enjoy and say 'yes, yes.' That's it. This is what I feel. I should give up controlling the situation and take the proceedings in a systematic manner, I should tell everyone to continue your talks," Kageri said laughing.

He explained that his only grievance is that the business of the House is not happening.

Ramesh Kumar intervened and said, "See, there is a saying- when rape is inevitable, lie down and enjoy it. That's exactly the position in which you are."

The former minister came under fire from various quarters including the MLAs from his own party for his statement. The Congress party condemned Ramesh Kumar’s words, calling the incident “unacceptable”. "Congress Party disapproves the exchange of highly objectionable & insensitive banter between Karnataka Assembly Speaker & Sr. Congress MLA in the House. Speaker as custodian & Sr legislators are expected to be role models & should desist from such unacceptable behaviour," Congress General Secretary Randeep Singh Surjewala. 

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