The 2019 Lok Sabha Elections gave women in India a reason for hope. Women won 78 out of 545 Lok Sabha seats. This is the highest percentage of representation women have seen in the lower house of the Indian Parliament. About 12 percent of them belong to the ruling BJP. Other than these women MPs, there are also a few prominent women who are staunch supporters of BJP. During the recent rape incidents in UP and elsewhere, many of these women leaders maintained a dead silence.
Nirmala Sitharaman is currently serving as the Minister of Finance and Minister of Corporate Affairs. Sitharaman is India’s second female defence minister and also the second female Minister of Finance after Indira Gandhi. She joined BJP in 2008 and has also served as a national spokesperson for the BJP. Nirmala’s response to the rape incidents in UP is: SILENCE.
Smriti Zubin Irani is serving as the Minister of Women and Child Development and Textiles. She also served as the Union Minister for Human Resource Development (HRD) before the reshuffling of the BJP Cabinet. Smriti’s response to the rape incidents in UP is: SILENCE.
Niranjan Jyoti, commonly known as Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti was appointed the Minister of State for Food Processing Industries in November 2014. On 30 May 2019, she was appointed Minister of state in the Ministry of Rural Development in Modi’s 2019 Cabinet. Sadhvi Niranjan’s response to the rape incidents in UP is: SILENCE.
Renuka Singh Saruta was the member of Chhattisgarh Legislative Assembly from Premnagar Assembly constituency then Surguja district, during 2003-2008. On 30 May 2019, she took oath as the Minister of State in the Narendra Modi cabinet and is serving as the Minister of Tribal Affairs. Renuka’s response to the rape incidents in UP is: SILENCE.
Pragya Singh Thakur better known as Sadhvi Pragya, is an Indian politician and Member of Parliament representing Bhopal. She was a prime accused in Malegaon blasts. During the college days, she was an active member of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) and later joined various affiliate organisations of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). Sadhvi Pragya’s response to the rape incidents in UP is: SILENCE.
Maneka Sanjay Gandhi served as the Union Minister of Women and Child Development from 2014 to 2019. She is also an animal rights activist, and environmentalist. She is the widow of Indian politician Sanjay Gandhi. Maneka’s response to the rape incidents in UP is: SILENCE.
Kiran Bedi is a retired Indian Police Service officer, social activist and former tennis player. She was the first female Indian Police Service officer and started her service in 1972. She remained in service for 35 years before taking voluntary retirement in 2007 as Director-General, Bureau of Police Research and Development. She joined the BJP in 2015. She unsuccessfully contested the 2015 Delhi Assembly election as the party's Chief Ministerial candidate. On 22 May 2016, she was appointed as the Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry. Kiran Bedi’s response to the rape incidents in UP is: SILENCE.
Interestingly, when Nirbhaya’s incident occurred in 2012, Smriti Irani was out on the roads along with BJP party workers to raise her voice against the ruling UPA government headed by Manmohan Singh. She did not hesitate to use abusive language to point out the failure of the Congress party to protect women. She even offered bangles to Manmohan Singh. Strangely, she has not uttered a single word about the brutal rape at Hathras and also growing incidents of rape under BJP rule.
Kiran Bedi is known to be a good public speaker. She also has the skill to approach the common people easily. In January this year I visited Raj Bhavan-Puducherry along with the children (boys and girls) and staff of a Child Care Home located at Puducherry. Kiran Bedi tried to converse with the children in English with the help of a Tamil translator. Her strong message to the children was: “You all must study well and develop your hidden skills. The girls must become bold to oppose every type of abuse. I, as the Governor, will be always with you to protect you.” These words sounded quite encouraging. The same Kiran Bedi, has not uttered a word about the recent rape incidents in UP as well as other parts of the country.
The above-mentioned proud women are self-declared icons of “Beti Bachao-Beti Padhao”. None of them has raised voice for the Dalit girl Manisha. They failed to understand the pain a young girl goes through during and after a brutal and violent gangrape. What if the rape victim was one of their family members? Will they remain “tight-lipped”? Will they not go to any extent to fight for justice? All these women come forward only to support, defend and protect Modi but not a rape victim. This is the irony today. Should we not call all these women ‘hypocrites’? Probably, they follow their party seniors who strictly imitate the three monkeys – Do not see a rape victim; Do not hear the cry of a rape victim; Do not speak about a rape victim. SILENCE seems to be their solution!