Brij Bhushan Not Convicted So You Can't Question Ticket to His Son: Nirmala Sitharaman

At least six wrestlers have accused Brij Bhushan of sexual harassment.
Nirmala Sitharaman
Nirmala Sitharaman
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Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman has defended the Bharatiya Janata Party’s decision to field Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh’s younger son, Karan Singh, from the Kaiserganj Lok Sabha constituency despite the multiple, serious charges of sexual harassment and assault against Brij Bhushan.

“How many people are there whose fathers, mothers or uncles have been accused of serious crimes, but they have still got tickets? All parties do it. Even children of people who have been convicted get tickets. And here nothing is proven against Brij Bhushan yet. If it was, you could have asked us why. How can we decide on our own that he is doshi (guilty)?” she said in Pune on Saturday.

Indian wrestlers and Olympic medalists Sakshi Malik and Bajrang Punia have reacted sharply to the BJP’s decision to field Karan. The two, along with Vinesh Phogat, were at the forefront of the wrestlers’ protest against Brij Bhushan, who allegedly misused his position as Wrestling Federation of India chief to molest, harass and intimidate women wrestlers.

As The Wire has reported, there has been intense speculation surrounding who would be the BJP’s choice for UP’s Kaiserganj seat for the past few months. Brij Bhushan, the sitting MP from the seat, is said to wield considerable influence in the area, and so the party did not want to lose his support despite the severity of the allegations against him.

Brij Bhushan’s older son, Pratik Bhushan Singh, is an MLA in UP.

At least six wrestlers have accused Brij Bhushan of sexual harassment. A minor wrestler had also levelled allegations against Singh under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO Act), however her complaint was withdrawn amid reports of pressure on her family to back down.

Two FIRs against him detail at least 15 incidents of sexual harassment that include 10 episodes of inappropriate touching, molestation that includes running hands over breasts, touching the navel; several instances of intimidation including stalking — and a shared sense of fear and trauma”. The former WFI president has denied all allegations.

Brij Bhushan is not the only situation in which the BJP has stood by a sexual assault accused. Most recently, the National Democratic Alliance candidate from Hassan in Karnataka, Janata Dal (Secular)’s Prajwal Revanna, has been accused of rape and assault by two women. Thousands of video clips of him engaging in sexual activity with women – many of which appear non-consensual and forced – have been circulated. While now BJP leaders including Sitharaman have said they will support action against him, it is reported that BJP leaders knew of these allegations and clips before Prajwal’s candidature was announced. In a number of other circumstances too, the BJP and its leaders have been seen supporting the accused in sexual violence cases rather than the women.

This article was originally published by The Wire and was republished with permission.

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