- Four-time lawmaker expelled by the BJP amid waves of public outrage
- Earlier this week, BJP claimed he had been suspended
- BJP's decision seen as belated after year-long saga of police callousness
Kuldeep Singh Sengar, a jailed four-time lawmaker accused of raping the Unnao teen survivor, threatening her family and attempt to murder, has been expelled by the BJP amid waves of public outrage.
The BJP's move, described by critics as a year in coming, comes days after the Unnao rape survivor and her lawyer were critically wounded and two of her relatives were killed in a car crash on Sunday involving a speeding truck that had its number plate painted black. The girl is still critical and on the ventilator, a hospital said today in its latest update.
The girl's family has accused Sengar of plotting the crash, which is being investigated by the CBI.
The BJP was repeatedly confronted with questions about its apparent reluctance to remove the lawmaker or take any strong action against him.
The Unnao rape case became a saga of police callousness, administrative neglect and the harassment of a young girl and her helpless family by a politician who seemed to enjoy leniency at every step. Despite sharp criticism, the ruling party acted only a year after his arrest for rape.
Earlier this week, when the case returned to the media glare after the road accident, the BJP had claimed that Kuldeep Sengar had been suspended, but had refused to say when this step was taken.
The expulsion announcement emerged hours after severe embarrassment in the Supreme Court for the party's government in Uttar Pradesh today.
The court said four cases linked to the Unnao rape survivor would be transferred out of Uttar Pradesh to Delhi, which was interpreted by many as validation of the fears of her family, which had written to Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi alleging threats from the lawmaker.
The court also asked for a progress report from the CBI on the rape case that has not moved in over a year and ordered that the investigation into the car accident be completed in seven days.
The girl has accused Sengar and his aides of raping her repeatedly when she went to his home for a job in 2017.
Her complaint was registered by the police only after she went public last year, staging a protest outside Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath's Lucknow home and threatening to set herself on fire if she was not heard.
She took the desperate step after her father was thrashed by Sengar's brother and, in a badly wounded state, taken to jail instead of hospital and charged.
The day after her protest at the chief minister's home, her father died in custody.
This morning, Uttar Pradesh's Deputy Chief Minister Dinesh Sharma had claimed that the party and the government had "done its job" on the case.
"We did our best, the government took its responsibility seriously. An FIR was filed against the accused and the CBI is also probing," said Dinesh Sharma.
Asked why the party would not reveal when Sengar had been suspended, Mr Singh said, before walking away, "Whatever our party president says is law."