Karnataka: Political slugfest over sexual assault case against Prajwal Revanna | Bengaluru - Hindustan Times

Karnataka: Political slugfest over sexual assault case against Prajwal Revanna

By, Bengaluru
Apr 30, 2024 08:25 AM IST

Karnataka government ordered the formation of a special investigation team (SIT) to probe a series of obscene videos involving Prajwal Revanna.

A political churn has erupted in the state on the sexual harassment case involving Hassan MP Prajwal Revanna and his father HD Revanna, an MLA representing Holenarasipur, as the Janata Dal (Secular) leaders are holding discussions on the candidature of Prajwal Revanna even as calls for their expulsion from within the party emerged while the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have distanced itself from the controversy amid protests by the Congress leaders against the JD(S) leader.

Congress on Monday took to the streets in Hubballi, Hassan and Bengaluru demanding the immediate arrest of Hassan MP Prajwal Revanna. (ANI)
Congress on Monday took to the streets in Hubballi, Hassan and Bengaluru demanding the immediate arrest of Hassan MP Prajwal Revanna. (ANI)

This comes two days after the Karnataka government ordered the formation of a special investigation team (SIT) to probe a series of obscene videos circulating in Hassan district of Karnataka involving Prajwal Revanna of the Janata Dal (Secular) party, some of which appeared to depict sexual assault. Prajwal Revanna is the grandson of former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda.

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Amid the allegations within the party that the Gowda family was aware of the video, yet fielded Prajwal Revanna, the JD(S) will be holding a critical core committee meeting in Hubballi on Tuesday. The leaders in the know of the development said that the party is likely to suspend or even expel the MP during the meeting.

On Monday, JD(S) chief HD Kumaraswamy said: “A decision was already made. Tomorrow (Tuesday) it is to be recommended at the core committee meeting in Hubballi. Because he (Prajwal) is a MP, it has to be done from Delhi. So I had requested Deve Gowda (JD(S) national president and former PM). Neither he (Gowda) nor I were aware of this issue. Some issues have come out, based on that it has been decided yesterday itself to suspend (him). But many were in a hurry.”

A JD(S) legislator known to be close to the former chief minister, who is also an uncle to Prajwal Revanna, sought the expulsion of Prajwal. JD(S) legislator Sharan Gouda Kandkur wrote to the party’s national president and Prajwal grandfather, HD Deve Gowda, demanding action against the Hassan MP.

“In the past few days, videos showing sexual acts have been circulated statewide, causing huge embarrassment for the party. It appears to involve Prajwal Revanna, as he was seen in some parts of the video. At first glance, it seems he is the accused. Hence, I request you to immediately expel him from the party,” the letter stated.

The party officially said that it would wait for the findings of the SIT. After Siddaramaiah announced the probe late on Saturday night, at least one complainant has come forward to register a First Information Report against Prajwal Revanna, and his father HD Revanna.

Meanwhile, the BJP has distanced itself while voicing objections to dragging Prime Minister Modi’s name to the controversy. After the scandal caught national attention, photographs of Prajwal Revanna alongside Prime Minister Modi during election campaigns have gone viral.

According to people familiar with the matter, the allegations of sexual harassment have likely tipped the scales in favour of Kumaraswamy in his struggle for control over Hassan’s politics with his brother, HD Revanna. Talking to the media on Monday, Kumaraswamy said that the scandal was a matter concerning “Revanna’s family” and not him.

On being asked about reports claiming that Prajwal Revanna had reportedly left the country, Kumaraswamy said, “The matter is not related to me. A SIT probe has been ordered, and officials have been put to work. If he has gone to a foreign country, getting him back is their responsibility. What should I say, if I’m asked? They (SIT) will get him, don’t worry. It’s an issue of the Revanna family, we have nothing to do with it,” he said, adding that he wanted to question Congress leaders about bringing “family names” while talking “about that particular person”.

BJP state president BY Vijayendra said: “It is not right to drag the BJP and the Prime Minister into this controversy. Our stand is clear in this matter. The state government has formed an SIT and whatever action that need to be taken against the accused will be taken. The Congress should not politicise the matter by dragging the PM’s name.”

When asked if the issue will affect the party’s chances in the second phase of elections, he said, “People will vote keeping Narendra Modi in mind.”

The allegations against the JD(S) leaders have also put the ally Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in a bind and cast a shadow over its campaign in the state. A senior BJP leader, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said: “The alliance between JD(S) and us was focused more on south Karnataka because that is where they have a footing. As much as Kumaraswamy claims they have influence in parts of north Karnataka, we know it is not significant. On the ground, we don’t see people in north Karnataka talking about the issue.”

Raising questions about the BJP bewing aware of the alleged videos before forming the alliance, state women and child development minister Laxmi Hebbalkar said: “Such an incident has never taken place in our country. Prajwal Revanna is a JD(S) MP from Hassan. Union home minister Amit Shah, Karnataka BJP chief BY Vijayendra knew about such CDs and videos as BJP leader Devaraje Gowda had written a letter to him and also spoke with him. When Amit Shah came to Mysuru, BJP leaders Preetham Gowda and AT Ramaswamy had insisted the party leader not to ally with JD(S).”

Karnataka minister Priyank Kharge wrote on X, “BJP Karnataka are waiting for your approval to hit the streets to get justice to hundreds of victims who have been abused by your Hassan candidate. BTW, the grapevine is that Central government has facilitated his exit from the country.”

The Congress on Monday held protests in the state demanding the immediate arrest of Hassan MP Prajwal Revanna. They took to the streets in Hubballi, Hassan and Bengaluru, among other places, seeking action against the 33-year-old grandson of JD(S) chief and former prime minister H D Deve Gowda.

Devaraje Gowda, a leader of the party from Hassan district, had allegedly warned the state leadership about allegations that Prajwal Revanna was sexually abusing women months before his name was announced as the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) candidate for Hassan. In a letter to state party chief B Y Vijayendra, he had urged for the matter to be brought to the attention of national leaders.

Responding to the allegations, HD Revanna, also an accused in the case, called the controversy a political conspiracy. “I know what kind of conspiracy is going on. I am not someone who will get scared and run away. Decision to expelling him (Prajwal Revanna) from the party is left to the party high command,” he said.

Accusing the Congress of plotting against his family, he said: “For more than 40 years, the Deve Gowda family has been facing harassment from the Congress party. Whatever has to be done legally in this matter will be done, I will not comment further on this (FIR on sexual assault).”

When asked about the whereabouts of Prajwal and if he will return to India, Revanna said, “He had already planned for this trip. We didn’t know there would be an FIR. When he is called for the investigation, he will come.”

Karnataka home minister G Parameshwara had earlier alleged that Prajwal Revanna has left the country since the formation of the SIT.

Meanwhile, the SIT headed by ADGP BK Singh on Monday recorded the statement of the woman who lodged the complaint against the MP. In her complaint, the woman claimed that HD Revanna and Prajwal used to sexually assault women workers in their homes. “Whenever (HD) Revanna’s wife wasn’t there, he used to call the women to the storeroom and touch them while giving them fruits. He used to remove saree pins and sexually assault women,” she added.

“From the videos, we have identified some women, whom we have asked to give a statement. The process is underway,” said a senior officer

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