Kolkata: Besides questioning the efficacy of West Bengal's ruling Trinamool Congress sending five of its MPs to Madhya Pradesh to enquire into a rape case, women activists here are appalled at the selection of two women MPs in the delegation who had earlier passed snide remarks against a rape victim.
Peeved by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) deputing successive teams to her state over political violence, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announced five of her MPs would be visiting Khandwa in the saffron party- ruled state to inquire about the horrific incident of a 30-year-old woman being gang-raped and forced to drink urine.
Slamming the Trinamool supremo's move to "politicise rape", several women activists have expressed their reservation over MPs Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar and Arpita Ghosh being part of the delegation.
Dastidar was forced to apologise for calling the 2012 Park Street rape, where the victim was an Anglo-Indian woman, a "sex deal gone wrong". The apology came after the state's rights panel took cognizance of the comments.
On the other hand, thespian-turned politician Ghosh, seeking to justify the chief minister's claim that the case was "fabricated", had blamed the victim after she had faltered in identifying the rapists.
"Before accusing the chief minister for her comment, the woman should be blamed as she failed to point out the culprits," Ghosh had said in 2012.
Blaming the Banerjee government over the rising crime against women in Bengal, rights activist Anuradha Talwar dubbed the delegation a political gimmick.
"Instead of indulging in political gimmickry, the Trinamool should put its own house in order. The fact that Dastidar is a part of this team not only reflects the Trinamool's insensitivity but also indicates what kind of findings this team will be giving," Talwar told IANS.
Echoing this, activist Bolan Ganguly slammed the Banerjee government for belittling the cause of rape victims in Bengal, whose wait for justice seem "endless".
"Be it Park Street, Kamduni or the Madhyamgram cases, the wait for justice seems to be endless and the Trinamool is shamelessly politicising a social curse like rape," Ganguly said.
Charging the Trinamool with being "insensitive", Ganguly said the presence of Ghosh and Dastidar will "aggravate the Khandwa victim's pain rather than sooth it".
While the prime suspect in the Park Street case is still at large, the trials in the Kamduni and Madhyamgram rape cases - both in North 24 Parganas district - have been meandering despite the government's assurances of speedy justice.
Former National Commission for Women member and veteran Marxist leader Subhashini Ali minced no words in attacking the Trinamool.
"Trinamool's political brinksmanship and tit-for-tat approach against its rivals is alarming. This politics over rape is highly condemnable. As for Dastidar being part of the delegation, it is outright disgusting. The whole country was ashamed of her outrageous remarks," Ali told IANS.
Needless to say, the BJP has flayed Banerjee over the move.
"The Trinamool's functioning defies logic, sending of the delegation is laughable all the more because women in her own state are waiting for justice while Bengal continues to top the country when it comes to crime against women," BJP MP and famed Bollywood singer Babul Supriyo told IANS.
Amid all the criticism, the five-member delegation, headed by Trinamool deputy leader in Rajya Sabha Sukhendu Shekhar Roy, left for Bhilai Kheda village in Khandwa district on Wednesday.
"Everybody has the right to form an opinion but we don't subscribe to the view that the delegation is a gimmick or political posturing. As the people's representatives we have the right to ascertain why such a heinous act was committed and what needs to be done to prevent its recurrence," Roy told IANS.