A day after Karnataka Law Minister JC Madhuswamy was seen abusing a local woman leader on video, Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa reprimanded his senior cabinet colleague saying his behaviour was "unbecoming of a minister." Mr Madhuswamy, on his part, apologised but said he had reacted to her "bad behaviour".
On Wednesday, Mr Madhuswamy, who is also the Minister for Minor Irrigation from Water Resources Department, was heard abusing the district president of Karnataka Farmers Association of Kolar, Nalini, in a clip aired by local news channels. The woman had gone to meet the minister to submit a memorandum for removing encroachment on a lake.
In the video, Mr Madhuswamy is purportedly heard saying, "Shut up, you rascal." He is also heard saying he is a "very bad man" and that she must air her grievances and not command. When Nalini questioned the minister's behaviour, the policemen on duty asked her to leave to defuse the situation. The incident took place when the minister was inspecting a project in Kolar, around 65 km from Bengaluru.
"What he did was wrong. I have warned him. Using abusive language against women is unforgivable. This sort of behaviour is unbecoming of a minister. I learnt about the matter after reading the newspaper. I will talk to the concerned woman. If such incidents happen in the future, I'll take stringent action," Mr Yediyurappa told reporters on Thursday.
Mr Madhuswamy, however, told reporters he would apologise if he has hurt the feelings of any woman. "When an individual spoke crossing the limits, as someone having self-respect, I reacted. If the wording is wrong, I apologise... the way she behaved was very bad. I too should not have used (the words)... I spoke the way I did because I was intimidated (sic)," he said.
The minister's behaviour drew criticism from the opposition parties, who have sought his removal from the cabinet.
Leader of Opposition Siddaramaiah said Mr Yediyurappa should make the minister apologise to the woman and drop him from the ministry.
Expressing surprise about Mr Madhuswamy's conduct, Congress state president DK Shivakumar said being in public life, one should hear grievances of people with patience. "I support Siddaramaiah's demand to drop him (Madhuswamy) from the ministry," he said.