Former Karnataka Chief Minister and Congress leader Siddaramaiah on Monday found himself the subject of a controversy after he attempted to snatch a microphone from a woman’s hand during a public meeting in Mysuru and, in the process, pulled off her dupatta.
The woman, identified as Jamala, however, said that Siddaramaiah is the best chief minister the state has seen. “I have no issues,” ANI quoted her as saying. “I only told him about some grievances and spoke roughly. I should not have spoken like that to a former a chief minister. He got angry because I slammed the table.”
But she claimed that local officers do not respond to the grievances of people, who now want their MLA to address their problems. “The MLA does not visit our area,” PTI quoted her as saying. “Where should we go if we have to get our official works done?”
Siddaramaiah told reporters that he has known Jamala for 15 years and said that she was like his sister, ANI reported. “When I was trying to stop a long speech of a party worker that incident happened, it was an accident, there was no bad intention,” he added.
The video, tweeted by ANI, showed Siddaramaiah sitting at a table at the meeting in Mysuru. Jamala, seated directly across him, can be heard complaining to the Congress leader who is surrounded by men on all sides. After she stood up mid-conversation, an agitated Siddaramaiah tried to take the microphone away from her and pulled her dupatta off.
He then gestured Jamala to sit down. She took the seat and continued with her complaint. The video shows Siddaramaiah shouting at her.
The Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party accused Siddaramaiah of abusing the woman, ANI reported. “[Congress President] Rahul Gandhi should tell what he will do with him [Siddaramaiah],” said Union Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Javadekar. “This is a crime, the way he abused her.”
Javadekar alleged that the Congress party only respects women from one family – an apparent reference to the Gandhi family. “That’s how they see women, they haven’t changed since the tandoor case,” he added.
Javadekar was referring to the 1995 “tandoor” murder case in which former youth Congress leader Sushil Sharma was convicted for killing his wife Naina Sahni by first chopping her body and then burning it in a basement oven. Sharma is serving a life sentence at present.
State BJP President BS Yeddyurappa criticised Siddaramaiah for losing his cool. “Instead of addressing her grievance persuasively, Siddaramaiah displayed his anger by snatching the microphone from her and shouting at her,” the BJP leader said.
State Congress chief Dinesh Gundu Rao also defended the former chief minister and said he did not intend to pull off the dupatta. “Sometimes when people start asking questions in a rough way and after hearing them out when they don’t stop, you want to pull the mic,” said Gundu Rao. “When pulling the mic, the dupatta came along with. There was no such intention.”
Meanwhile, the National Commission for Women has written to state Director General of Police Neelmani Raju, and asked him to investigate the matter, PTI reported.