The CBI charge-sheet against BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar in an alleged rape case has left the ruling party in a quandary as the opposition demanded the legislator's expulsion while the saffron party maintained that it was "too early" to take a call.
Sengar, a four-time MLA who enjoys immense clout in Uttar Pradesh's Unnao, was on Wednesday charged by the CBI with raping a minor girl at his residence at Makhi village on June 4 last year.
"The party leadership is closely monitoring the matter and is in touch with the local leadership," UP BJP spokesperson Chandramohan said.
"Whatever necessary and appropriate steps as per the policies of the BJP (are needed) will be taken. A decision will definitely be taken," he added.
The spokesperson further said that it was "too early to take a call" on the demand for the Unnao MLA's expulsion as the CBI filed the charge-sheet only on Wednesday.
"It has not been a long time that charge-sheet has been filed. It would be unfair to jump to an early conclusion," he said reacting to the opposition SP and Congress, besides the rape survivor's uncle's, seeking Sengar's ouster from the party.
"BJP has never compromised with its principles and we give due importance to them," he said when asked about the party's silence on taking action against Sengar even after he was named in the charge-sheet.
The BJP spokesperson also said, "Our party has never done what the Congress does. The BJP has a clear line, while the Congress is facing a host of questions from different quarters, which it is unable to answer. The list of questions to the Congress is quite long and its leadership is on bail."
"As far as the BJP is concerned, it pertains to just an MLA and not the party leadership. It was on the request of the UP government that the CBI took up the probe. We are committed to justice and delivery of justice," he said.
The CBI was handed over the case by the state government nearly 10 months after the crime and a self-immolation bid by the victim in front of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath's residence here.
The subsequent death of her father in jail from injuries allegedly inflicted by the MLA's brother in April this year only added to the ruling party's woes.
The central probe agency charged Sengar and his accomplice Shashi Singh with rape under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, criminal conspiracy, kidnapping and criminal intimidation.
The charges entail maximum punishment of imprisonment for life.
Meanwhile, the opposition SP and Congress upped the ante against the BJP as they mounted a joint attack on the ruling party over the issue.
"Anybody who has been named in a charge-sheet should be expelled from the party. But, the BJP has a history of harbouring such people. As a party with a difference they should set an example, before even raising a finger at others," SP spokesperson Juhie Singh said.
UP Congress put the onus on the government and the party to take action against Sengar.
"People in the state are not feeling secure outside jail or even inside jail. The government should take a call on this as those who are in power are taking the law in their own hands and committing crime," UP Congress spokesperson Ashok Singh said.
"The onus is on the government and the party to act and take action. Why is it not initiating any action against its MLAs," he added.
The uncle of the rape-survivor too wondered why the accused wasn't expelled from the party yet.
"Why is it so that the BJP has not expelled the MLA from the party even after the charge-sheet has been filed," he said.
However, he said that the victim, her family and the villagers were satisfied with the action taken by the investigative agency.
The CBI alleged that the 17-year-old girl was raped by Sengar at his residence, nearly 70 km from the state capital.
The victim said that she had gone to the MLA's residence, along with a relative, to seek a job.
Days later, she was kidnapped and raped by a group of accused between June 11 and June 20.
In February, the girl's family had moved the court, seeking to include the MLA's name in the case.
The state police registered a case on April 12, 2018 on the day of handing over the probe to the CBI.