Bharatiya Janata Party MLA Ram Kadam, who had promised to help “kidnap girls” who reject marriage proposals, on Thursday apologised for the comment. On Wednesday, he had issued a video message expressing regret for his remarks.
Kadam made the controversial comments at a Dahi Handi event in Mumbai’s Ghatkopar suburb on Monday, drawing severe criticism from several quarters. In the video, Kadam is heard saying, “Take down my number. If you call me and say, ‘sir, I proposed to this girl but she declined. Please help’. This [girls declining proposals] is wrong. Of course I will help. First bring your parents, if they say they like the girl, I will kidnap her and hand her over to you.”
On Thursday, Kadam claimed that his political rivals had twisted his comments. “I have expressed regret about my comments repeatedly,” he said. “Once again, with due respect to all my sisters and mothers, I am apologising.”
In a video message the previous day he had said: “My comment was twisted and used out of context but despite that, without giving any justification or clarification, I tender an apology to all mothers and sisters of Maharashtra whose sentiments I might have unknowingly hurt by my comments.”
Kadam’s apology on Thursday came after Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis sternly warned him, according to Mumbai Mirror.
“The chief minister was very upset at Kadam,” an unidentified senior Bharatiya Janata Party minister told Mumbai Mirror. “The fact that he was trying to justify the comments and defending it made matters worse. The chief minister called and asked him to apologise. He was very reluctant, but the chief minister gave him a stern warning.”
On Wednesday, Kadam had claimed the video showing him making the comment on social media was edited to distort his comments. “However, despite that, since women’s respect is important to me, I apologise without talking about that,” he had said in a video message on Twitter.
The BJP minister added: “He was asked to be careful in the future. If there is any such controversy again, the party will have no option but to sack him.” Kadam’s comments have damaged the party’s reputation, the minister added.
Fadnavis and the saffron party have been criticised for not sacking Kadam.
‘Rs 5 lakh for cutting off his tongue’: Ex-state minister
A former Maharashtra minister allegedly announced a reward on Thursday for anyone who “cuts off the tongue” of Kadam. In a video of an event at Buldhana, Congress leader Subodh Saoji is purportedly heard saying Kadam’s comments were unbecoming of a legislator. “... and therefore, I am announcing a Rs 5 lakh reward for anyone who comes forward and cuts off his tongue.”
Shiv Sena compares Kadam to Khilji
An editorial in Shiv Sena’s mouthpiece Saamana on Friday compared Kadam to Delhi Sultanate ruler Alauddin Khilji and criticised the BJP for its silence on the matter. Shiv Sena, a partner of the BJP in the state government, said the BJP’s MLAs were creating panic among women in Maharashtra while Prime Minister Narendra Modi was giving justice to Muslim women with legislation on triple talaq.
“Queen Padmini committed ‘jauhar’ [the medieval custom of Hindu women immolating themselves in huge groups to avoid capture by the enemy] along with thousands of other Rajput women to protect their honour, prestige and religion,” the editorial said. “Their ‘jauhar’ against Alauddin Khilji and his tyranny is still inspiring women in India. But it seems time has come for the women in Maharashtra to commit ‘jauhar’ against the BJP’s Khilji.”
BJP minister says controversy must end
Senior BJP leader and Maharashtra minister Chandrakant Patil on Friday called for an end to the controversy, saying Kadam has apologised for his comments, PTI reported. Patil said public representatives must exercise restraint when speaking.
“Kadam does not have a history of speaking ill about women,” Patil told a Marathi channel. “On the contrary, he is known for helping women immensely. Thousands of women in his constituency give him rakhis every year. Ram Kadam was not arrogant and he apologised...So the matter should come to an end.”