Chandigarh: Sending an inappropriate text message isn’t equal to sexual harassment, a Punjab leader said on Friday.
Asha Kumari, Punjab in-charge of All India Congress Committee was defending the state Technical Education Minister, Charanjit Singh Channi. Channi has been asked to step down for allegedly sending an “inappropriate” message to a woman official a few weeks ago.
However, Kumari’s remark agitated her detractors, with the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) claiming that the Congress president Rahul Gandhi had asked Kumari to “cover up the misdeeds of Technical Education Minister”.
“Sending a message doesn’t become a case of #MeToo. Sexual harassment is different from messaging,” Kumari said.
Kumari also clarified that the party did not receive any complaint against Channi and Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has already expressed his views on the matter.
Over the remark, SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal said, “It is shameful that a woman is belittling a fellow woman on the orders of Rahul Gandhi with a mind-boggling statement that text messages do not constitute sexual harassment.”
According to a report, the Chief Minister recently asked the minister to apologise to the official and said that the matter has been “resolved to official’s satisfaction”. The minister clarified that he has sent the text to the official “by mistake”.
“When the Chief Minister has acknowledged the Minister's guilt, how can Kumari give him a clean chit?" Badal asked, adding that Kumari has belittled the #MeToo movement “that seeks to expose and punish people like Channi”.
The SAD president recalled how Congress demanded Union Minister MJ Akbar’s resignation over the sexual harassment allegations and wondered why Gandhi was adopting “double standards” on this issue. He also asked
Badal said, “If the Congress government cannot give justice to a woman officer, what will be the fate of ordinary women in Punjab who have no direct access to the chief minister or the corridors of power?”
Meanwhile, senior BJP leader and former Minister Manoranjan Kalia demanded that Channi should be relieved of the portfolio of Technical Education being having co-education.
“Channi says that the “message was sent inadvertently” to the IAS officer who accused him of sending “inappropriate” message. But, Channi must disclose the name of the person for whom the text message was meant for in which Channi praised her eyes,” said Kalia.
(With PTI inputs)...