New Delhi: National Commission for Women (NCW) chairperson Lalitha Kumaramangalam on Saturday slammed former Maharashtra home minister RR Patil for his 'rape after elections' remark and termed it a 'reprehensible statement'.
Kumaramangalam criticised Patil's controversial statement made at an election rally in Maharashtra, where he said: "If the candidate wanted to become a legislator, he should have waited till the elections and then raped..."
“Strict action should be taken,” Kumaramangalam told reporters.
Patil's insensitive comment sent his Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) scurrying for cover. However, NCP leaders refused to comment over this controversial issue. “Have not seen the video can't comment on it,” NCP spokesperson said.
Following the statement, political parties and social activists termed it "as an insult to women" of the state.
Shortly, thereafter, an apologetic Patil said he regretted the faux pas and that his statement was unintended.
"I was criticising the candidate... I had no intention to offend womenfolk and I apologise if anybody's sentiments are hurt," he said.
It happened when some activists of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) extended support to Patil for the October 15 Assembly Elections.
Pleased but puzzled, Patil apparently asked them the reason for their sudden generosity, barely days before the state polls.
The MNS activists confessed that their official candidate was behind bars allegedly for involvement in a rape case.
"Oh! If he wanted to be elected legislator from this area, he could have at least waited till the elections and then raped..." Patil blurted out.
Later, the normally soft-spoken and measured Patil sought to defend himself saying the MNS candidate had been booked a few years ago in another alleged rape offence, but it failed to cut ice with many.
Five years ago, after the 2008 Mumbai terror attack, Patil had raised hackles when he said: "Aise bade bade shehron me, chhote chhote haadse hote rehte hain..." (In big towns like Mumbai such small incidents keep on happening) before he apologised.
In April 2013, another NCP leader and ex-deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar, following drought-hit farmers' demand for water, had said: "What can I do if there is no water in the dams? Should I urinate to fill up the dams? Without water, even urine is not coming..."
Subsequently, following a nationwide hue and cry, he apologised for poking fun at farmers' plight.