New Delhi: A Congress leader in Haryana has attracted flak for his controversial comment that most of the over 15 rapes reported in the state in the past month were "consensual".
Digambar Goyat has been asked by the party to explain his statement even as opposition parties have attacked the Congress.
Goyat, a member of the Haryana Pradesh Congress Committee, made his statement days after party chief Sonia Gandhi visited Jind district in the wake of the spurt in gang rape cases.
Speaking to reporters in Hisar, Goyat said on Thursday that the "majority of rapes in the state are consensual".
An embarrassed Congress party distanced itself from the remarks, saying they were Goyat`s personal comments and the party had nothing to do with his statement.
State Congress chief Phoolchand Maullana said: "We have issued him notice and told him not to speak on behalf of the party."
Under attack, Goyat tried to backtrack on Friday, saying he had been misquoted. "I did not say anything like this… I said something casually over tea when asked by a reporter about runaway couples."
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi termed Goyat`s comments "very shameful, especially since Sonia Gandhi had gone there… This just shows the attitude of the party."
Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader Brinda Karat hit out at the Congress party saying its leaders were "making one outrageous comment after anther".
Congress leader Jagdambika Pal said it was Goyat`s personal opinion and the state government was taking strict action against rapists.
National Commission for Women chairperson Mamta Sharma asked Goyat to "respect women before making tardy assessments of such a heinous crime".