A one-man committee is probing allegations against Surya Siva, who has been barred from attending party events.
“We will put an end to the culture of abusing women when BJP comes to power. Those who speak ill against women and sexually harass them, their tongues and hands will be chopped.” This is what K Annamalai, chief of Tamil Nadu Unit of Bharatiya Janata Party, said on November 1, 2022, while leading a protest in Chennai’s Valluvar Kottam demanding the arrest of DMK functionary Saidai Sadiq for his derogatory speech against the party’s women leaders including Khushbu Sundar.
Three weeks later, Annamalai, is facing questions with regard to inaction over abusive comments during a phone call between OBC Morcha general secretary Surya Siva and Daisy Saran, chief of the party’s minority wing in Tamil Nadu. In the audio of the phone conversation Surya Siva is heard hurling nasty abuses and issuing death threats to Daisy allegedly over appointment of officer bearers in Trichy district.
“You can complain to anyone in the party, even to (state BJP president) K Annamalai. It’ll be you who will lose face,” Surya is heard telling Daisy in the leaked audio conversation. He then went on to say, “will you complain to JP Nadda (BJP’s national president) or to Amit Shah or to Modi? Complaint to anyone you like.”
The audio clip immediately went viral on social media platforms, creating a political controversy. In a bid to control the damage, Tamil Nadu BJP Chief Annamalai on Tuesday ordered an inquiry by Professor Kanagasabapathi and asked the one-man committee to submit his report within seven days. Surya was also barred from attending party events until the state leadership made a final decision on the matter.
On the way with thalaivar @annamalai_k #Kashi_Tamil_Sangamam pic.twitter.com/t4QZcJH3e2— Trichy Suriya Shiva (@TrichySuriyaBJP) November 17, 2022
That, however, did not stop the controversy from flaring up. Due to the outrage on social media platforms and under pressure, Annamalai on Wednesday told reporters that he has asked the inquiry committee to expedite the process and submit its report by Thursday evening.
But the important question raised by many is what took so long for the Tamil Nadu BJP chief to initiate action against Suriya Siva when the matter was brought to his notice 15 days ago?
Speaking to ABP Nadu, a Tamil digital news platform, Daisy Saran claimed that she had approached Annamalai 15 days ago with a complaint over the issue and had also submitted the audio conversation in question. “Suriya and I were called in, and Annamalai advised us. I wanted stern action against him and it should not have been handled in a soft manner. If this is what a person like me, who is a state-level leader, had to face, then what will happen to other women tomorrow? It should not have been dealt in a soft manner,” she said in the interview.
A senior leader of the BJP told TNM that the entire party is shocked by the manner in which this issue was handled by the leadership. “If action was taken at an appropriate time after receiving the complaint, the party may not have faced such embarrassment,” the leader claimed.
Importantly, this is not the first time that the state leadership of BJP has come under sharp criticism for its alleged inaction against complaints of sexual harassment of its women leaders and workers. In September 2022, BJP state general secretary Pon Balaganapathy was caught on camera sexually harassing BJP Vice President and former MP Sasikala Pushpa at a public event. However, no action was taken against Pon Balaganapathy despite the video proof.
Similarly, in August 2021, former Tamil Nadu BJP general secretary K T Raghavan was caught in an alleged ‘sting operation’ where he was seen indulging in a sleazy video call with a female party worker. After the video surfaced on social media, Annamalai formed a committee headed by state secretary Malarkodi to probe the sexual harassment allegations. However, the BJP maintains that the probe committee did not receive any complaints of sexual harassment till today.
Source: The News Minute