Senior Congress leader KR Ramesh Kumar on Thursday stirred controversy when he said that rape should be enjoyed when it was inevitable, ANI reported.

The politician made the comment in the Karnataka Assembly in response to Speaker Vishweshwara Hegde Kageri’s statement about a prolonged debate on the loss of crops.

The Speaker had said that his position was like someone who was compelled to enjoy an adverse situation as more MLAs sought time to speak on crop loss due to untimely rain in the state, according to The Times of India.

Kumar responded to the Speaker, with: “There is a saying – when rape is inevitable, lie down and enjoy it.”

Later on Thursday, the Congress leader apologised for his comments.

“I would like to express my sincere apologies to everyone for the indifferent and negligent comment I made in today’s Assembly about ‘Rape!’”, Kumar wrote in a tweet. “My intention was not [to] trivialise or make light of the heinous crime, but an off the cuff remark! I will choose my words carefully henceforth!”

In 2019, as the Speaker of the Karnataka Assembly, Kumar had said that he felt like a person who was raped when he was asked questions about a Special investigation Team inquiry into an audio clip controversy involving senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader and former Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa.

In the audio clip, Yeddiyurappa purportedly offered Janata Dal (Secular) MLA Naganagowda Kandkur’s son, Sharana, Rs 25 lakh and a ministerial post for his father. The former Karnataka chief minister had admitted that it was his voice that was heard in the clip.

However, Yediyurappa had criticised Kumar for not seeking the opinions of politicians in the Opposition before imposing the SIT inquiry on him.

“My situation is like that of a rape victim,” Kumar had said in response to criticism. “The rape happened just once. If you had left it at that, it would have passed. When you complain that a rape has happened, accused is put in jail. But his lawyers ask how did it happen? When did it happen and how many times? The rape happens once but you get raped 100 times in court. This is my condition.”

Congress General Secretary Randeep Singh Surjewala disapproved of the discussion in the Assembly between the MLA and the Speaker and described it as “highly objectionable and insensitive banter”.

“[The] Speaker as custodian and Sr legislators are expected to be role models & should desist from such unacceptable behaviour,” he said in a tweet.

Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha and Congress’ Mallikarjun Kharge said he did not like Kumar’s comment, NDTV reported.

“He has apologised for his comment but such language is condemnable,” he said. “We respect women. The Speaker was laughing at the comment, we don’t approve of that either.”

Samajwadi Party MP Jaya Bachchan said that Kumar’s comments were awful.

“What can I say?” she said. “I am ashamed to even think that people of such a mindset can be in the Assembly or Parliament. I don’t know what action will be taken. His party should take strong action. I am speechless. Does he not have women at home? This is the result of a basic flaw in thinking.”

Union Minister of Women and Child Development Smriti Irani also said that the Congress must act against its MLA for making “shameful statements” about women, ANI reported.

“Congress should first suspend their leader before talking about women empowerment and raising slogans like ‘ladki hoon, lad sakti hoon [I am a girl, I can fight]’ in Uttar Pradesh,” she said.

In November, Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra had launched a 100-day action plan with the slogan to reach four crore women voters in Uttar Pradesh ahead of the Assembly election that are scheduled to take place next year, ANI reported.