Jaipur/New Delhi: A 24-year-old married woman from Jaipur who says she was raped three years ago by union minister Nihal Chand Meghwal says she wants help getting "two minutes" with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. That plea was made through the media yesterday; she also said she is being alternately threatened and lured with a job offer to drop the case. ('2 Minutes' with PM Modi, Requests Woman who Claims Rape by Minister)
"Why should I resign?" Mr Meghwal said today.
He has the support of his party. "No one can be protected because he is a minister," said senior leader Meenakshi Lekhi, adding, "but you can't falsely implicate someone. Nothing has been proven yet."
The allegation against the minister- who has been asked to appear in a court in Jaipur next month- has commissioned one of the first big scandals for the new government, with the opposition Congress and women's rights activists demanding his immediate removal.(Congress Seeks Nihalchand Meghwal's Resignation)
Mr Meghwal, the 43-year-old junior minister for Chemicals and Fertilizers, is the only parliamentarian from Rajasthan in Prime Minister Modi's cabinet.
The woman says that in 2011, she was raped by a group of men including Mr Meghwal, who was not a parliamentarian at the time. She says her husband, an aspiring politician and property dealer, forced her to have sex with powerful and connected men in and around Jaipur.
Her lawyers say that her police complaint resulted in a deliberately-shoddy investigation by cops who protected the influential people she had named. ('Was Told Not to Take on Powerful Men': Rape Survivor who Named Union Minister)
Earlier this year, a local court accepted the police's request to close the case, though the woman's testimony had never been recorded. She challenged that decision in a higher court in Jaipur which has now asked Mr Meghwal to appear in person on August 20 to respond to her petition for the case to be re-opened along with others named in her petition.
The BJP says that the case had been thoroughly investigated at a time when the Congress was in power in Rajasthan, so it is unlikely that any favours were done to let Mr Meghwal off the hook.
In Delhi today, Congress workers demonstrated at the BJP's headquarters against Mr Meghwal, demanding that the PM explain why he delivers speeches on the safety of women but has refused to penalize a member of his government who is tainted by allegations of rape. "This is the real face of the Modi government, all their claims sound hollow," said Shobha Oza of the Congress.