Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Brinda Karat on Saturday said her party was in principle against the death penalty. Karat’s comments come hours after the Centre approved an ordinance to award capital punishment to rapists of those below 12 years of age.

The Rajya Sabha MP said the government cleared the ordinance to divert attention from the assault on the basic judicial processes. “The death penalty is already there in the rarest of rare cases,” said Karat.

She accused members of the government of supporting rapists, reported IANS. “We have heard about gau rakshaks and criminal activities which they indulged in. Today BJP is preparing and has prepared bands of men who are rapist rakshaks. There should be a penalty against rapist rakhsaks.”

Karat said what was more important is the certainty of punishment. “I am afraid as this has very little credibility,” she said. “This issue is not addressing the issue which is agitating the minds of Indians.”

The CPI(M) passed a resolution condemning the Kathua and Unnao rape cases. “The shame of Kathua is that the victim was selected because of her religion and accused were protected because of their religion,” Karat said. “Top BJP leaders came on streets to defend rapists.”

The Congress seemed divided on the ordinance. “Finally, after four years the government have shown some spine. I will wait to see what the ordinance has,” party leader Manish Tiwari said.

However, senior leader Salman Khurshid said the government should “contemplate” its decision. “We need to address the root cause of such crimes as there’s a limit to which judiciary can help,” he said.

National Commission for Women chairperson Rekha Sharma said she welcomed the government’s move, ANI reported. But she added a note of caution. “The main challenge is the implementation of the law. I would still suggest that there be fast track courts so that the justice can be delivered at the earliest,” Sharma said.