Refuting Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s remarks on the gangrape last month of a Dalit woman in Alwar, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Monday accused him of targeting the Congress on the issue for political mileage in the sixth and seventh phases of Lok Sabha election.Mr. Gehlot said Mr. Modi had twisted facts as a “ploy to get electoral benefit”.The Chief Minister told reporters here that contrary to Mr. Modi’s claims and despite his attempts to provoke Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati, there was no likelihood of the party withdrawing support to the Congress government in Rajasthan.“We will continue to get the BSP’s support. Ms. Mayawati’s concern is natural and justified, as she leads the Dalit community,” he said.Addressing the election rallies in eastern Uttar Pradesh, Mr. Modi had launched an attack on Mr. Gehlot and Ms. Mayawati and dared the latter to withdraw support to the Rajasthan government over the incident. Mr. Gehlot said the State government had already taken prompt action in the matter and the police had arrested all the accused. “The Thanagazi SHO was suspended and Alwar Superintendent of Police was removed. But Mr. Modi is using this incident in his election campaign to personally target me,” he said.The Chief Minister said the State government had decided to appoint Deputy Superintendents of Police (Women’s Security) in each district as nodal officers to supervise investigation into the crimes against women and children. If a police station refused to accept a complaint in such a case, the SP could directly register the FIR, he said.Mr. Gehlot said several cases of rape took place during the previous BJP regime in Rajasthan and a BJP MLA was involved in a rape case in Uttar Pradesh. “Mr. Modi never talked about them,” he said, adding that reports had emerged about BJP leader Hem Singh Bhadana going to the victim’s family with an offer to settle the matter.“Mr. Modi has been personally targeting me on various occasions. This is the latest instance. When I was in-charge [of Congress] during Assembly election in Gujarat, he misled and provoked farmers against me. He has no right to take a high moral ground and generate controversy in a rape case,” Mr. Gehlot said.Mr. Gehlot also accused the Prime Minister of bringing all democratic institutions under the control of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sevak (RSS) and threatening their very existence. “Democracy and the Constitution are under threat in the BJP’s rule. Mr. Modi wants to win the Lok Sabha election by hook or by crook… He can go to any extent. The Election Commission has become a silent spectator,” Mr. Gehlot said.After Mr. Modi accused Ms. Mayawati of shedding “crocodile tears” on the gangrape, the BSP chief rejected the charge as “dirty politics”. BSP State president Sitaram Meghwal told The Hindu that Ms. Mayawati was closely monitoring the progress of investigation in the case and his party would ensure that the criminals were brought to justice.
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