Will  #MeToo call Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu?

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The  courageous  all-India  Me-too  campaign  has  nailed  powerful   male  personalities  ranging   from  film  directors  and  actors   to  media  journalists  and   political  leaders.  I  expect  the  veteran  Congress  politician  Renuka  Chowdhury  to  join  the  campaign,  since  according  to  her  own  account  she  had  suffered  sexist  remarks  from  no  less  a  person  than   India’s  present  Vice-President   Venkaiah  Naidu.

To  recount,  in  March  2018,  after  Renuka  Chowdhury   delivered  a  farewell  speech  following  her  retirement  from  the  Rajya  Sabha,  Venkaiah Naidu  as  the  chairman  of  the  Rajya  Sabha  made  a  derisive  comment  about  her  physique:  “…reduce  your  weight  and  make  efforts  to  increase  the  weight  of   your  party…”.   Renuka  Chowdhury  did  not  take  that  comment  in  a  lighter  vein,  as  evident  from  her  interview  with  a  newspaper  a  few  days  later.  While  resenting  that  comment  of  Venkaiah  Naidu’s,  she  recalled  that  it  was  not  the  first  time  that   he  had  cast  slurs  on  her  body.  Earlier,  he  had  said  to  her:  “Why  don’t  you  go  and  see  a  doctor  ?”   In her  interview,  Renuka  posed  a  counter  question:  “Do  they  (male  politicians)   tell  men  (like  Venkaiah  Naidu)  why  don’t  you  loose weight  ?”  (Deccan  Chronicle;  April  2,  2018).

If  she  felt  offended  –  as  expressed  in  her  press  interview  –  Renuka  Chowdhury  should  now  join  the  Me-Too  campaign  by  indicting  Venkaiah  Naidu  and  charge  him  under  clause  354  A   (inserted  in  2013)  of  the  Indian  Penal  Code  which  holds  that  any  man    “making  sexually  coloured  remarks  shall  be  guilty  of  the  offence   of  sexual  harassment.”

May  I  request  the  Me-too  campaigners   to  persuade  Renuka  Chowdhury  to   institute  a  case  against  the  Vice  President  for  his  improper  utterances  –  for  which  he  hasn’t  yet  apologized  ?

Sumanta Banerjee is a political and civil rights activist and social scientist



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