- Minister Manoj Kanti Deb seen placing his hand on colleague's waist
- Incident took place with PM Modi, Chief Minister Biplab Deb on stage
- Minister declined to comment, BJP spokesperson denies harassment charge
A Tripura minister seen on video groping a female ministerial colleague on stage in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has landed in a major controversy with the opposition demanding that he be fired and charged with sexual harassment.
Tripura's opposition Left Front on Monday demanded that minister Manoj Kanti Deb be sacked for "touching" the woman in an "indecent manner" during a rally in Agartala on Saturday that was also attended by Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Deb.
NDTV cannot independently verify the authenticity of the video.
When contacted, the minister declined to comment on the incident. The ruling BJP, however, dismissed the charge, hitting out at the Left Front for "character assassination".
"Manoj Kanti Deb must be sacked and be arrested for touching the woman minister in an extremely indecent manner on the stage from where Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb and others addressed the public gathering," Left Front convener Bijan Dhar told the media.
He said that it appeared publicly on various social media websites that Mr Deb put his hand on the waist of Social Welfare and Social Education Minister Santana Chakma, a young tribal leader.
"The male minister has publicly harmed the modesty, sanctity and dignity of the lone woman minister of Tripura at a public platform where the Prime Minister, the Chief Minister and other important personalities were present," Mr Dhar said.
He alleged that an increasing number of women are being raped, murdered and kidnapped since the BJP-led government came to power in Tripura 11 months ago.
Other local parties in Tripura are also planning protests soon to demand the resignation and arrest of the minister.
Contacted for his response, the minister, Manoj Kanti Deb, who holds the Food, Youth Affairs and Sports portfolios, told news agency IANS over phone from his hometown Kamalpur in northern Tripura that he did not want to comment on the incident.
BJP spokesperson Nabendu Bhattacharjee, however, said that the Left Front, after raising up "non-issues" against the BJP government, has now "started character assassination of BJP ministers on false and non-issue matters".
"The woman minister has never made any statement and complaint on the issue raised by the Left parties. Why are the Left parties doing this dirty politics?" he asked.
(With inputs from IANS)
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