The BJP on Saturday launched an all-out attack against Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra over their "selective outrage" in cases of atrocities against women questions were raised on their "silence" regarding the alleged rape and killing of a six-year-old girl in Punjab's Hoshiarpur. The victim's link to Bihar has given this issue a new dimension with the first phase of the Bihar elections set to take place on the 28th of this month.
The BJP fielded its senior woman member in the union cabinet Nirmala Sitharaman who said, "I have come to speak on something which disturbs all our minds. The rape in Hoshiarpur and the complete silence of the Congress party in this matter of a 6 year old child of a migrant labourer from Bihar. Dalit is raped, is killed, body half burnt and it doesn't shake the conscience of the brother and sister pair who rush to every other chosen sight which they think can help them politically".
Sitharaman was referring to Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi and their much publicized visit to Uttar Pradesh's Hathras to meet the family of the Dalit girl who was allegedly brutalized and subsequently died in a Delhi hospital.
While Sitharaman stressed that rapes should not be politicized, she questioned the 'selectivity' and 'enthusiasm' of the 'brother and sister pair'. She questioned why they don't visit Hoshiarpur in Punjab and Rajasthan where the Congress is in power.
Noting that the young girl belonged to a Dalit migrant family from Bihar, Finance Minister and senior BJP leader Nirmala Sitharaman also took a swipe at Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Tejashwi Yadav, questioning if he had asked Rahul Gandhi about the issue while holding a joint poll campaign with him in the state.
Attacking Yadav, she referred to a news report of 2008 to talk about the "allegations of eve-teasing and misbehaviour with women against the RJD brothers", a reference to him and his elder brother Tej Pratap.
"It (the Punjab incident) may not hurt the RJD because that is how things were when they were in power," Sitharaman told reporters while flaying Lalu Prasad Yadav's party for the "jungle raj" during its rule in Bihar during 1990-2005.
Hitting out at the Congress, she asked why there are no tweets from the 'tweet friendly leaders' and pointed out that 35 senior MPs from Congress had wanted to march to Hathras, asking for justice.
"Where are those 35 today? No sense of outrage if it is a Bihari Dalit child?" she asked.
The Finance Minister said, "The pretentious Congress has not said a word. The tweet-friendly Rahul Gandhi has not tweeted on the Hoshiarpur incident. There has been no outrage. And no picnic either."
Her "picnic" jibe was in reference to Rahul Gandhi and his sister Priyanka Gandhi's visit to Hathras in BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh following the alleged gangrape of a Dalit girl, who died in a Delhi hospital subsequently.
The BJP had accused Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi of practising "political tourism".
"The Congress party should stand up and answer. Does this kind of selective outrage suit the stature of their party? Why is the brother-sister pair not going and voicing horror in Hoshiarpur? Why not in Rajasthan? The selective cry of outrage that the Congress wants to show when it is elsewhere but not in states governed by it is completely exposed," Sitharaman said.
Stating that crimes like rape should not be politicised, she said certain political parties are selective in voicing horror.
The minister added that the BJP will ensure that the victim's family gets timely justice.
Another senior BJP leader and Union minister Prakash Javadekar also slammed the two Congress leaders and asked why had they not paid a visit to the family of the victim in Punjab yet.
He accused Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi of going on a "political tour" to Hathras, as he questioned the lack of a similar reaction from the two leaders to ghastly crimes against women in Punjab and Rajasthan, which are ruled by the Congress.
They go to these places for "photo-op", Javadekar said, referring to the Congress leaders' visit to Hathras.
"A six-year-old girl coming from a Dalit migrant family from Bihar was raped and murdered in Punjab's Tanda. Former Union minister Vijay Sampla from our party met the family. Nobody from the Congress met them.
"They (the Gandhis) cannot see atrocities against women in the states where it (Congress) is in power. Neither Rahul Gandhi nor Priyanka went there and nor was there any comment from its president, Sonia Gandhi," he told reporters here.
Javadekar also claimed that the culprits in the rape-and-murder case in Punjab have not been arrested yet and demanded stringent action against them.
In a horrifying incident, a six-year-old girl was allegedly raped, killed and then set on fire, with her half-burnt body found at a home in Tanda's Jalalpur village, police said on Thursday.
The accused -- Gurpreet Singh and his grandfather Surjit Singh -- have been arrested on the charges of murder, rape and under other relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, they said.
(With inputs from agencies)