New Delhi: A column written for ndtv.com by Ashutosh, a senior leader of the Aam Aadmi Party or AAP, triggered protests from the opposition today and an order to appear before the country's top women's rights body, which said he has demeaned women.
- AAP leader wrote about party sacking minister over sex scandal
- AAP leader said it was private, consensual act
- Woman involved has later alleged rape by former minister
"Should I be hanged for writing a column," Ashutosh tweeted this evening, adding "Is India turning into a fascist state?"
The column focused on the removal of Sandeep Kumar, a Delhi minister, after AAP's top bosses including Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal received a video and stills of the 36-year-old with two women.
The column ran on Thursday, before the woman who is seen in the video accused Mr Kumar of rape; he was arrested over the weekend based on her complaint.
Ashutosh, a former news editor, said in his blog that the sexual act was a private and consensual one, that the media over-reacted to the scandal and exaggerated its import, and that the party sacked Mr Kumar because of "perception management."
His column elaborates on how Indian politicians' sexual habits have historically not been a cause of public concern or scrutiny.
Lalitha Kumaramangalam, who heads the National Commission for Women, told NDTV that she hopes Ashutosh will comply with orders to meet her on Thursday and that "he should admit he made a mistake" in defending the sacked minister. She said that the tone of the piece was derogatory towards women.
The Congress and the BJP say that Ashutosh has insulted Mahatma Gandhi by referring to him in the same breath as a man who is now accused of rape. The Congress protested this morning at Rajghat, the memorial to Gandhi-ji.
"Ashutosh has hurt the feelings of people, especially by comparing a rape accused to Mahatma Gandhi, George Fernandes and with Atal Bihari Vajpayee. He has indulged in a childish act by comparing them," BJP leader Satish Upadhyay told news agency ANI.
"Why the party (AAP) did not ask him to apologise to the nation for his comments on his blog?" he asked.