Explainer: The case of Ram Kadam and why BJP can no longer ignore the patriarchy in its ranks

By Prarthana Mitra

As the 2019 election draws nearer, the BJP is faced with an enormous internal threat from leaders who are openly misogynistic and think they can roam scot-free after passing derogatory remarks on women in public. The case in point being Ram Kadam’s recent public comment which made national headlines this week. The BJP MLA at an event in Ghatkopar, Maharashtra, endorsed kidnapping young girls if they refused marriage proposals, drawing ire not only from the opposition but from a few BJP leaders as well.

While most of the party’s female leaders and women’s wing Durga Vahini haven’t yet commented on the criminal “beti bhagaao” proposition, the party at large has refused to support or sympathise with Kadam, despite his apologies. However, the government can no longer shirk their responsibilities of making an example out of politicians like Kadam, nor continue to shelter such malignant agents in their rank and file.

BJP leaders Shaina NC and Swati Chaudhury have not held back from lambasting Kadam and his motives. BJP National spokesperson Shaina told the media that she was shocked by his statements, while Chaudhury of Mumbai ABVP has openly demanded that the state government and Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis should take action against Kadam. The student wing of BJP also organised a “joote maaro” protest against the MLA in his constituency in Ghatkopar.

All this has given rise to speculation that BJP may take some concrete and stringent action against Ram Kadam whose apologies over Twitter (and the second one in writing) has fallen on deaf ears. Maharashtra Congress MLA Subodh Saoji has declared a prize money of Rs. 5 lakh for anyone who cuts off his tongue. NCP has also condemned the politicians for his controversial remark.

Following harsh criticism from the opposition, the silence from the rest of the party does not bode well for the BJP in the short run-up to the elections. Harbouring and giving such ministers a free reign could prove dear for the central party of India, where gender crimes are on the rise and gender equality ranks very low in the list of priorities.

Prarthana Mitra is a staff writer at Qrius