NEW DELHI (TIP): Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav got himself embroiled in yet another controversy as he defended rapists saying sometimes boys make mistakes but don’t deserve the death penalty which was strongly criticised by his rivals. While addressing a rally in Moradabad, he even went to the extent of saying if voted to power his party will scrap death penalty for repeat rape offenders.
He said, “Rapists should not be given the death sentence. Sometimes boys make mistakes. My government will try to change the law.” He was referring to the Shakti mills gangrape case in Mumbai where repeat offenders have been sentenced to death under the strict anti-rape laws enacted after the December 16, 2012 Delhi gangrape incident. This is not the first time that Mulayam has courted controversy on gender issues. The SP has consistently opposed even the Women Reservation Bill in Parliament.
SP leader Naresh Agarwal backed the party chief saying, “Such strong rape laws are being misused by many and it’s acting against the innocent. If Mulayam said so, then he is right.” Mulayam’s son and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav refused to comment saying he does not know in which context remarks were made. Mulayam’s statement, however, drew sharp reactions from political adversaries.
BJP leader Subramanian Swamy hit out at the SP chief saying, “Mulayam Singh Yadav should think before he speaks. He wants to play minority politics over rape case.” Another BJP leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said, “Mulayam’s government will never come to power. But if by some chance it does, then all the goons would be out of jail, roaming free and harming the country with their deeds.” Congress leader Shobha Oza also condemned Mulayam’s statement saying, “This is unfortunate.
No leader should say anything that would encourage rape.” Aam Aadmi Party leader Medha Patkar said death penalty should not be awarded. She said, “Rape is a very serious offence and it should not be pardoned. But personally speaking, I am against the death penalty. A life sentence is fine, but I don’t think a death sentence is the right step.” With the SP government already facing flak over the law and order situation in Uttar Pradesh, the statement does little to redeem SP’s record on this front.