The Congress today explained in Parliament why PJ Kurien should not be removed as Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha despite allegations that he raped a schoolgirl in 1996 in his home state of Kerala.
The main opposition party, the BJP, was not assuaged. It has now joined the Left in demanding that Mr Kurien should not chair any discussions in the Upper House till the controversy is cleared.
In a lengthy statement, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath said that Mr Kurien, who is 72, was exonerated in 2007 by the Supreme Court in what's known as the Suryanelli rape case. In 1996, a teen girl was abducted and raped by 42 men over 40 days; she says Mr Kurien was among them and he must be re-investigated.
The pressure to remove Mr Kurien has mounted since the Supreme Court ordered a retrial of the case within six months. In 2005, the Kerala High Court acquitted 34 of 35 men accused of raping the school girl. Mr Kurien was not among them. The Supreme Court at the end of January nullified the High Court's verdict.
Mr Kurien's political opponents and the rape survivor say he must now be put on trial. But the Parliamentary Affairs Minister pointed out that three different police investigations in Kerala, including one conducted when the Left was in power, said there was no evidence against him.
Last week, the rape survivor filed a police complaint against Mr Kurien, demanding that he be probed for sexually assaulting her.