New Delhi: A day before Parliament meets for its Budget Session, PJ Kurien, the Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha has written to legislators, declaring that rape charges against him are untrue.
Opposition parties like the Left and the BJP have said that it will be inappropriate for Mr Kurien to chair planned discussions on women's safety and new laws introduced to punish crimes against women, a matter of impassioned national debate since December's fatal gang-rape of a Delhi student on a bus.
His critics want Mr Kurien removed for alleged links to the Surynelli rape case - in 1996, a school girl in Kerala who lived in the Suryanelli area was abducted and raped by 42 men in 40 days. She says Mr Kurien was among her assaulters.
The Congress leader was exonerated by the Supreme Court in 2007. But the rape survivor says that's because his political connections allowed him to evade a thorough probe by the police.
Earlier this month, the Supreme Court asked the Kerala High Court to re-try the case and nullified its verdict in 2005 which acquitted 34 of the 35 men accused of raping the woman. Mr Kurien was not among those who were tried.
Since the Supreme Court's action, the woman has reiterated her allegations against Mr Kurien, who has repeatedly said he is innocent. However, the only man who had been convicted by the Kerala High Court, a lawyer, now says that he drove Mr Kurien to a guest-house where the woman says she was raped.