Gujarat BJP MLA kicks, punches woman NCP leader; apologises after viral video
Ahmedabad : A BJP legislator in Gujarat was caught on camera kicking and punching a local NCP woman leader, who approached him for resuming water supply to her locality in Ahmedabad district.
A video of the purported incident went viral on social media, prompting the Congress and the NCP to demand action against Naroda constituency MLA Balram Thawani, who has apologised. The BJP also condemned the incident.
The woman, Neetu Tejwani, told reporters the MLA slapped her so hard that she fell down, following which he started kicking and thrashing her.
Ms. Tejwani said she had approached the MLA’s brother, Kishore Thawani, a local corporator, with the request to not disconnect the water supply of her locality in Naroda town as the legal process to restore it was underway. She claimed the corporator, too, abused and hit her.
Ms. Tejwani said when no action was taken even after four-five days, she went to the MLA’s office in Meghani Nagar area of Ahmedabad, along with other women of her locality.
“The MLA was not in the office. But his supporters started abusing me,” the woman said.
“We shouted slogans against Kishore Thawani. Soon, Balram bhai arrived in a vehicle, came out, snatched the mobile phone from my hand and slapped me very hard. I fell down, after which he started kicking me. They hit me with a stick,” she said.
“He kicked me in the stomach and put his boots on my face. There were six-seven more people. When my husband tried to stop him, his men came out from the office and started thrashing my husband,” the woman said.
Following an uproar, the legislator apologised for his action and claimed that he was attacked by the group when he was telling them to meet him on Monday.
Mr. Thawani said he went to the woman’s residence to seek apology, claiming that she had tied ‘rakhi’ on his wrist and pardoned him.
“I apologised and we have resolved the issue. I told my sister (Tejwani) to pardon me for my action. I’ve promised her that I will stand by her,” he said.
“It happened unintentionally. I did not intend to harm or insult anyone. I will rectify the mistake and will even say sorry to her,” the MLA said.
Earlier, he alleged that the woman and her husband, who are NCP leaders, came to attack him in a “pre-planned manner”. “I had requested them to come tomorrow morning to resolve their complaint. I am very sorry for the mistake.”
The Congress sought action against the MLA and demanded apology from the BJP and Chief Minister Vijay Rupani. “Even 12 hours after the video went viral, the chief minister and the police are silent,” state Congress president Amit Chavda said.
NCP leader Jayant Bosky demanded suspension of the MLA from the Assembly and his expulsion from the BJP.
“We have talked to the woman who is associated with the NCP…. We will appeal, protest and fight against this,” Bosky said.
State BJP spokesperson Bharat Pandya termed the incident “shameful” and said his party strongly condemned it. “As soon as Jitubhai Vaghani (state BJP president) saw the video, he sought explanation from the MLA and asked him to apologise,” Mr. Pandya said.
“Such violence should not happen in Gandhi’s Gujarat. As public representatives, they should behave properly with the public. The party has taken the matter seriously,” he claimed.
A probe based on complaints filed by both sides was underway, Deputy Commissioner of Police Neeraj Badgujar said. “Both the sides have lodged complaint of rioting and assault, and police are investigating the case,” he said.
NCP condems assault
In Mumbai, the NCP condemned the assault on its woman leader in Gujarat and asked if “jungle raj” prevailed in the neighbouring state. It also called for the BJP legislator’s arrest.
NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik said an apology was not going to suffice in such a matter and that the law must take its course against the ruling party MLA and his supporters.
“BJP leaders and their supporters have become uncontrollable after the party’s poll victory. A woman has been thrashed. Is it some jungle raj?” Mr. Malik asked.
“We demand that a case be registered and the MLA arrested. Apologising won’t suffice, it is no petty matter. The law should take its course,” he added.
Mr. Malik also warned the Sharad Pawar-led the party would stage protest if Mr. Thawani was not arrested.
Senior NCP leader Ajit Pawar and party MP Supriya Sule, too, condemned the incident.
Taking to Twitter, Mr. Pawar attributed the incident to the frenzy caused by power, while Ms. Sule said violence is not acceptable in a democracy.
“In a democracy every individual has the right to protest, and the use of violence to quell the voice of opposition is unacceptable…,” Ms. Sule tweeted.
Opposition leader in Maharashtra Legislative Council Dhananjay Munde of the NCP alleged the BJP government’s ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’ scheme, aimed at empowering girls, was a “pretence”. Mr. Thawani’s attitude showed the “BJP’s culture”, Mr. Munde said and called for his suspension.