Stung by a recent survey that claimed India was most unsafe country for women and the barbs that followed from the Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, the ruling BJP on Tuesday hit back at the Congress, demanding action on an alleged complaint of sexual harassment by a former employee of the Congress' social media team against her boss.
BJP leader Meenakshi Lekhi also asked the Delhi police to file a case on the woman's complaint and tell people "under whose pressure" it had not filed a case yet. She added the police should also probe the sexual harassment allegation against a functionary of the Congress' students' wing, NSUI.
Hours later, senior police officer Madhur Verma told reporters that a case had been registered against Chirag Patnaik, a manager in the Congress' social media team, on the woman's complaint of 11 June.
Chirag Patnaik is being probed for outraging modesty of a woman and sexual harassment that is punishable with up to three years jail.
Before the police moved in, Congress social media head Divya Spandana had responded to the attack from BJP with a statement that insisted this was the first time that she was hearing of the allegation.
On Twitter, she also put out a statement signed by about two dozen members of the social media team that vouched for Chiraj Patnaik.
News agency Press Trust of India said Ms Lekhi also termed as "fake" the Thomson Reuters Foundation survey of about 550 experts on women's issues that found India the world's most dangerous country for women.
It was a report on this survey that Rahul Gandhi had cited to target Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the issue of women's safety, and said it was "a shame" that it concluded India was the world's most dangerous country for women due to the high risk of sexual violence.
This survey portrayed India in a bad light, she said, claiming that "far worse" cases are happening abroad and that New York and not New Delhi is world's "rape capital".
"It is not about criticism, it is about portraying India in a bad light. They are not portraying that India came together to protect its daughters and change its laws," she said, in a reference to the aftermath of the Delhi gang rape, which occurred in December 2012 and is often referred as Nirbhaya case.
Woman activist and CPIM leader Brinda Karat said Ms Lekhi's comments reflected the BJP's "callous mindset".
"As a woman, Meenakshi Lekhi should show little more sensitivity to the very serious insecure environment which most women in India face day in and day out. She may or may not agree with the survey but she cannot question the figures of her own government which shows huge increase in last three years of rape of minor children and women," Ms Karat said, according to PTI.
Activist Kavita Krishnan said she does not hold the survey to be particularly "reliable", but added that the BJP did not find wrong a survey by the same organisation in 2013.
"Ms Lekhi's own party, BJP, had no trouble in legitimising the same survey during the UPA government when it had called India the 4th most-unsafe country for women in 2013, and at that time the BJP used the survey to gain political points," she said.