A member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, who has been sued for defamation by Bharatiya Janata Party publicity wing chief Amit Malviya, on Tuesday denied levelling allegations of sexual exploitation against the Hindutva party leader.

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh is the parent organisation of the BJP.

On Saturday, Malviya had filed a defamation suit of Rs 10 crore against Santanu Sinha for a post on Facebook, in which the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh member seemingly accused the BJP leader of sexually exploiting several women.

Malviya’s counsel sent a legal notice to Sinha, saying: “The nature of allegations are extremely offensive in as much as, they falsely allege sexual misconduct purportedly committed by my client.”

“No corner in the post there is any whisper about sexual exploitation of women by Mr. Amit Malaviya,” Sinha said on Tuesday. “Rather I have there expressed my fear if Mr. Malaviya will be drawn to honey trap by the unscrupulous leaders of the party to remain clung to their post despite such debacle in the recently held [Lok Sabha] election.”

Honey trapping refers to a person being enticed through romantic or sexual relationships into revealing information.

On Monday, Congress leader Supriya Shrinate had called for Malviya’s removal from his post as the BJP’s IT cell chief citing Sinha’s allegations.

“An RSS member Santanu Sinha, related to BJP leader Rahul Sinha, has said that the BJP IT cell head Amit Malviya indulged in nefarious activities,” Shrinate had said. “He indulged in the sexual exploitation of women. Not just in 5-star hotels but in BJP offices in West Bengal.”

Sinha responded by describing the Congress the “nastiest and most corrupted political party of the country” and accused it of spreading a “hate campaign” against Malviya and the BJP.

Sinha said that the BJP had previously had a “bitter experience” with honey trapping in West Bengal. He also alleged that members of the Hindutva party had played a “dubious role” in spreading news of his purported claims, instead of trying to understand the motive behind his initial post on Facebook.

“A legal notice sent from the end of Mr. Malaviya…was circulated amongst media, purposely, with a view to create pressure upon me on the one hand, and on the other, to divert their responsibility of the debacle in last parliamentary election in West Bengal,” Sinha said. “Jaganath Chattopadhyay, de-facto president of the state party, is the man behind circulating the legal notice (I have the audio clips which I will bring out when require).”

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh member emphasised that he was ready to defend himself in court if Malviya were to pursue a case against him. Sinha said that he did not want the BJP and its office bearers to be “undermined in any manner by [the] misinterpretation” of his previous post.

“If my post hurts Mr. Malaviya and/or undermines my party for such misinterpretation and edited version, I do express my heart felt sorrow for the same,” Sinha said. However, he clarified that he would not be taking down his original Facebook post since he had “not written anything untoward…with the mission to malign anyone”.

The BJP won 12 out of West Bengal’s 42 seats in the recently-concluded Lok Sabha elections, down from the 18 seats it won in 2019. The Trinamool Congress won from 29 constituencies while the Congress was able to secure just one seat.

In all, the BJP won 240 Lok Sabha seats in the general elections, a significant dip from its tally of 303 seats in 2019. A party or alliance requires 272 seats in the 543-member Lower House of Parliament to form a government at the Centre.

With the BJP falling 32 seats short of the majority, it has formed the government with the support of its partners in the National Democratic Alliance, whose final tally in the House stands at 292 seats.