Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Monday deplored the remarks of a Bharatiya Janata Party MLA, who suggested that rape can be averted if women are raised with “sanskar”, or good values, and not with good governance. Gandhi blamed the “filthy” male chauvinist mentality of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the ideological mentor of the BJP, for such distasteful comments.

In a video released by news agency ANI, Surendra Singh, BJP legislator from Bairia constituency in Uttar Pradesh’s Ballia district, is heard emphasising on the need for parents to instil good values in their daughters to prevent rape. His remarks came amid nationwide outrage and shock over the brutal gangrape of a Dalit woman by four men from the upper-caste Thakur community in Hathras, Uttar Pradesh.

“Such incidents can be stopped only with sanskar [culture and values] and not with shashan [governance] or talwar [sword],” Singh had said. “The government’s job is to protect the people but it is also the responsibility of parents to teach children polite behaviour and manners.”

Gandhi on Monday pointed out how Singh’s remarks put the onus of not getting raped on women. “This is the filthy RSS male chauvinist mentality at work,” he tweeted. “Men do the raping but women need to be taught good values.”

Rahul Gandhi man of ‘foreign mentality’, says BJP leader

On Monday, Singh hit back at the Congress leader over his tweet. He said that Gandhi was a man of “dual character” and “foreign mentality”, who was also ignorant about India’s culture, according to PTI. “He will understand the definition of nationalism if he takes tuition from nationalists,” Singh told reporters. “He could not understand the crux of the country’s culture.”

He claimed that Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s “dual characters” became obvious when they were going to meet the family of the Dalit woman. “While they were laughing during their journey, they shed tears at their homes,” the BJP legislator said.

Singh said that he stood by his earlier statement, adding that the support of family and the government were necessary for a “cultured society”. “Immoral works cannot be stopped till the head of the family – the father or the mother – don’t monitor the activities of the daughter or the son,” he said.

The Congress, and particularly Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi, have been at the forefront of protests against the gangrape of the woman and the high-handedness of Uttar Pradesh Police in dealing with the case, especially after they cremated the woman’s body against her family’s wishes.

On Saturday, the Gandhis met the family of the Hathras gangrape complainant after wading through a battery of police personnel deployed en route to the woman’s village. This was was their second attempt, as both leaders were stalled on Thursday and arrested under Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code for allegedly violating a public order prohibiting the assembly of four or more people.

After meeting the family on Saturday, the Gandhis said they would continue their fight for justice, adding that no power could stifle the family’s voice. Priyanka Gandhi put forth a list of questions and demands to the Uttar Pradesh government from the family, which includes a judicial inquiry into the case, and the suspension of Hathras District Magistrate Praveen Laxkar, who had threatened the family.

Follow today’s live updates of the Hathras gangrape case here