Why didn’t Priyanka Vadra get angry about the atrocities on women in Sandeshkhali?

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Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has been vocally raising issues of women’s oppression in BJP-ruled states. Priyanka had strongly raised the Hathras issue of UP. On October 1, 2020, when Priyanka Gandhi was going from Delhi to meet the family of the Hathras victim, the police stopped her convoy near Greater Noida. Then she told the media that she also has a daughter, so as a mother she gets very angry with such incidents. Priyanka had fiercely questioned the Yogi government regarding the Unnao rape case. His activity in this matter was clearly visible. Firstly, the case was of a BJP ruled state, secondly, a BJP MLA was in the circle of allegations. Priyanka Gandhi, while cornering the Yogi government of Uttar Pradesh, had asked that the government should tell whether it is with women or with criminals?

On January 21, 2022, a case of murder of a teenage girl was reported in Bulandshahr district of UP. The family members alleged that the girl was murdered after gangrape. Priyanka Gandhi reached Bulandshahr in UP on 3 February 2022, where she met the family members of the victims and made serious allegations against the police and administration. On February 4, 2024, Priyanka Gandhi did not delay in raising the issue of the death of a judge in Banda, Uttar Pradesh on her social media account As a responsible leader and citizen, Priyanka’s outspokenness on crimes and atrocities against women is praiseworthy.

But the other side of the picture is why all the activism of Priyanka Gandhi is seen only in BJP or NDA ruled states. Why do they get angry only on crimes against women in BJP ruled states? Don’t the atrocities on women in Congress-ruled and non-BJP ruled states excite and anger them? Why don’t they feel the sorrow of the women there? Why do they maintain silence on crimes against women happening in non-BJP ruled states?

On the Manipur violence, every big and small Congress leader made sharp statements against the state and central governments. The government was put in the dock of the allegations. But the surprising thing is that around the same time, Priyanka Gandhi maintained silence in the cases of women harassment in Congress ruled states – Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and non-BJP ruled states – Bihar, Telangana, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala etc.

There was a spate of incidents of rape and harassment of women during the five-year rule of the Gehlot government in Rajasthan. Rajasthan will never forget the heinous incidents like atrocities, misconduct and rape that happened to women in Rajasthan due to the Gehlot government’s failure in women’s safety. But it is funny that even two words of condemnation may have come out of Priyanka’s mouth. Last year, women’s safety had emerged as a major issue in the Rajasthan Assembly elections.

The soul shudders after reading, hearing and seeing the news of atrocities against women in Sandeshkhali, West Bengal. Several Hindu women of Sandeshkhali have accused local Trinamool Congress leader Shahjahan Shaikh and his supporters of sexually assaulting and raping them overnight in the last few years. According to women’s testimonies based on interviews given to various news channels, viral on social media, women are often and haphazardly picked up from their homes at night and taken to the TMC office where they are abused by goons . They are threatened that if they do not obey, their husbands will be killed. As the women have said, this is not a sudden or horrific incident of sexual harassment, but this torture and exploitation of these women had been going on for years. The women allege that even the local police and administration did not listen to them.

Mainstream media have also begun to report extensively on Sandeshkhali. Yet, no conscious intellectual and celebrity brigade has uttered a word of condemnation against the state government. The silence of the leaders of the country’s oldest party, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and her brother Rahul Gandhi on this very sensitive and serious issue also puts them in the circle of questions. Rahul Gandhi is currently on Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra. They are cornering the Central and BJP ruled governments on every small and big issue. In such a situation, the important question is that why did he not seek justice for the victims of Sandeshkhali from the Chief Minister of West Bengal?

Priyanka Gandhi’s silence on Sandeshkhali proves that she has nothing to do with women’s safety and the dignity of daughters. She looks at the cases of women’s oppression and crime from the political perspective of profit and loss. In a state where BJP is in power, she does not leave any opportunity to corner and defame the government. Apart from this, the caste of the victim and the culprit is also taken into consideration for protest.

The victims in Sandeshkhali are Hindu Dalit women and the accused is a Muslim Trinamool Congress leader. In such a situation, Congress’s politics of Muslim appeasement gets affected by standing with the victims in Sandeshkhali. Therefore, Congress politics finds it convenient to sit with its mouth shut on Sandeshkhali. Local Congress leaders in West Bengal condemned and protested against the Sandeshkhali incident, but as serious as the matter is, the condemnation and protest by Congress leaders is no more than a ritual. In fact, Congress politics revolves around Muslim appeasement. In such a situation, protesting against Priyanka, Rahul or any other big leader in Sandeshkhali will not send the right message to the Muslim community. Compared to vote bank, the issue of women’s identity does not hold much importance for Congress. Priyanka Gandhi’s anger and rhetoric are selective and politically motivated. The big talks about women’s respect and safety and sympathy for the victims are all motivated by pure politics.

After the testimony of the Hindu women of Sandeshkhali went viral on social media, the West Bengal government is rejecting the allegations and calling it a conspiracy by BJP and RSS. Instead of registering FIRs and taking action on the complaints of these helpless women, the West Bengal government has repeatedly invoked Section 144 in Sandeshkhali, continuing its efforts to intimidate people and suppress the voices of women. Priyanka Gandhi was in-charge of UP in the UP assembly elections in 2022. This election was fought under his leadership. Then she gave the slogan, ‘I am a girl, I can fight’. More than 40 percent of the tickets in the assembly elections were given to women candidates. Today the women of Sandeshkhali need a fighting daughter. But Priyanka Gandhi, who used to give passionate slogans during elections, seems to be missing from the political scene.

The political health of Congress in West Bengal is not hidden from anyone. In such a situation, nothing much will be achieved by doing politics there. Therefore, neither Priyanka is going to fight for the daughters there nor is Rahul Gandhi demanding justice for them. BJP itself is continuously cornering the state government effectively on this issue. Next time when Priyanka Gandhi, before raising her voice or showing anger in favor of any woman in a BJP or NDA ruled state, she should remember the faces of the victims of Sandeshkhali demanding justice. Because nothing can be more shameful than weighing the serious and sensitive issue of women’s honor and safety on the scale of political profit and loss.

– Dr. Ashish Vashishtha

(The author is an independent senior journalist)

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