Prajwal Revanna suspended from JD (S) over sexual abuse allegations; political slugfest intensifies

The alleged involvement of the NDA Lok Sabha candidate in sleaze video scandal escalated with the BJP launching a fierce counter-attack against the Congress for delayed action in the case by the Karnataka government.
Prajwal Revanna who has been suspended from the JD(S) amid allegations over sexual abuse.
Prajwal Revanna who has been suspended from the JD(S) amid allegations over sexual abuse.

Bengaluru/Hubballi | The JD(S) on Tuesday suspended its Hassan MP Prajwal Revanna from the party over allegations of sexual abuse as the political slugfest over the alleged involvement of the NDA Lok Sabha candidate in sleaze video scandal escalated with the BJP launching a fierce counter-attack against the Congress for delayed action in the case by the Karnataka government.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah and other top BJP leaders questioned the state government why it did not take action against Prajwal despite being aware of the case for weeks and months. The attack by the BJP came a day after the Congress took on the saffron party over the allegations against the leader of its ally the Janata Dal (Secular) in Karnataka.

Police on Sunday booked Prajwal Revanna and his father H D Revanna on charges of sexual harassment and criminal intimidation based on a complaint from a woman, who worked in their household. Prajwal is the grandson of former prime minister H D Deve Gowda and nephew of former chief minister H D Kumaraswamy.

Faced with the unrelenting attack from the Congress and other political parties, the JD (S) suspended Prajwal, minutes after the party core committee that met in Hubballi recommended his suspension to its national president Deve Gowda.

"Videos of Hassan MP Prajwal Revanna allegedly harassing women are widely in circulation on social media and media and this has caused huge embarrassment to the party and its leadership," the suspension order said.

Noting that the Congress government in Karnataka has constituted a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to investigate the allegations, it said: "In this backdrop, as per JD(S)' party constitution and rules regarding breach of discipline and punishment, Prajwal Revanna has been suspended with immediate effect."

The suspension order, signed by party General Secretary K R Shivakumar, was released to the media following approval from the JD(S) national President.

Prajwal is the BJP-JD(S) alliance's candidate from Hassan, which went to the polls on Friday.

However, after Prajwal's suspension, Kumaraswamy and Deputy Chief Minister D K Shivakumar engaged in a war of words over the allegations with the JD (S) chief

accusing Shivakumar of hatching the conspiracy of circulating the videos in public and then setting up the SIT to probe into the matter.

"Bringing out the truth of the main accused is just one part of it. How was the pen drive circulated?... For what reason was it circulated and for how many months was the 'great leader' (Shivkumar) aware of it? These are the questions," Kumaraswamy told reporters in Hubballi.

Reacting to Kumaraswamy’s allegation, Shivakumar said the JD(S) first family has been remembering him for many years without which they do not get proper sleep.

"Kumaraswamy had said in the television interview that the BJP high command had cautioned him that he (Prajwal) is not good and think before giving him a ticket. He also said giving the ticket to Prajwal was his father Deve Gowda’s decision," claimed Shivakumar.

Terming the charges against Prajwal 'serious', the Karnataka deputy chief minister said the matter here is of women’s modesty.

"The information I got is that nearly 200 to 300 families, their honour, their relatives, their women and daughters, JD(S) party workers and those whom they gave jobs, contractors…. I have not seen them all (videos) but people are saying this," Shivakumar said.

"This morning, Union Home Minister Amit Shah gave a statement asking people what the DCM is doing. He said there is no justice for women in Karnataka. You (Centre) sent a team of the National Commission for Women to Udupi when someone took photos (in a girls’ hostel), but why are BJP leaders not talking about it (Prajwal Revanna's case)," he asked.

According to a letter purportedly addressed to BJP's B Y Vijayendra in December 2023, party leader G Devaraje Gowda had opposed the party's alliance with the JD(S), saying he was in possession of a pen drive consisting of over 2900 video clips and photos allegedly shot by Prajwal Revanna to blackmail many women.

Meanwhile, Devaraje Gowda and Prajwal Revanna’s former car driver Karthik accused each other of leaking the alleged sleaze videos of the JD(S) Hassan MP which has caused a big embarrassment to the regional party.

Addressing a press conference in Guwahati, Shah said the issue regarding Revanna reported in the media "is very hurtful and cannot be tolerated in any way”.

The home minister said Congress has been alleging that an NDA partner’s candidate is involved in the incident, "but I just want to ask a small question - whose government is there in that state (Karnataka)?"

"The Congress is in power in Karnataka, and this matter must have come to their attention. Why has it not taken any action on it so far? We cannot take any action as law and order is a state issue," Shah said.

In Delhi, Union minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar told reporters that the BJP has zero tolerance towards crimes against women and welcomed the decision of the JD(S) to suspend its MP Prajwal.

He also accused the Congress of double standards and being selective on the issue.

If the Congress government in Karnataka was aware of the case for weeks and months, then why did it not act so far against the accused, he asked.

Also Tuesday, more political parties and leaders attacked the BJP-JD(S) alliance over the allegations. AIMIM MP Asaduddin Owaisi also used a derogatory term to attack Prajwal.

RJD leader Tejashwi Prasad Yadav attacked the ruling BJP at the Centre, accusing it of "protecting rapists and helping them get away".

"Why are PM Narendra Modi and HM Amit Shah maintaining a stoic silence over the Karnataka sex scandal? The BJP government at the Centre helped the accused (Prajwal Revanna) escape to Germany. The accused is involved in the abuse of around 2,500 women in Karnataka. What happened to their (BJP leaders) 'Beti Padhao and Beto Bachao' slogan? They (BJP) are more into protecting rapists and helping them get away," he said in Patna.

Earlier in the day, 11 Congress workers were taken into preventive custody following an altercation between them and JD(S) cadres over the allegations.

The Congress workers protested in front of Denissons Hotel in Hubballi where the core-committee meeting of the JD(S) party was held. The JD(S) cadres, who were also present there, raised slogans against the Congress government for allegedly leaking the videos and degrading the dignity of women, police said.

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