Karnataka minister apologizes after viral video shows him, slapping woman
The incident, the video of which went viral on social media, took place when the Housing and Infrastructure Minister was participating in a property document distribution ceremony at Hangla village in this district.Property ownership papers were handed over to landless people who were occupying government land for residential purposes.
During the ceremony on Saturday, the woman, later identified as Kempamma, approached the Chamarajnagar district charge Minister reportedly pleading with him to allot a plot. The minister turned angry after he was shoved due to the unruly crowd and allegedly slapped her.
“This incident is not an incident at all. I have been in politics for the past 40 years. This was a program organized for the downtrodden and economically weaker section of society. Though I did not misbehave at all if anyone felt hurt then I apologize and express my regret,” he told reporters in Chamarajanagar.
According to him, Kempamma, a widow, was repeatedly coming onto the stage compelling him to ask her not to do so.
Though he told her that he will resolve her issue in 10 minutes once he comes down from the stage, she did not relent, Somanna added.
“I was trying to make her stand aside indicating to her with my hand. There was no other intention other than that. I have high regard for women. I too come from a financially weaker background,” the minister explained. He added that he issued a ‘Hakku Patra’ (ownership paper) to Kempamma on Sunday.
Former Chief Minister and Congress leader Siddaramaiah came down heavily on Somanna saying that the incident “showed his culture”.
“A woman was narrating her woes to the government but she responded with harsh words. Those in power should have patience. Somanna is unfit to be a minister,” Siddaramaiah said.
“If you don’t have patience and are inept to address the grievances of people then you should resign and come out of the government,” he said.
Congress national general secretary and Karnataka in-charge Randeep Singh Surjewala alleged that the “arrogance has gone into the heads” of the BJP ministers.
Congress general secretary and Rajya Sabha member Jairam Ramesh said: “What a difference from the way @RahulGandhi began the Karnataka leg of #BharatJodoYatra from the very same Gundlupet on 30th September! This shameless man should be sacked immediately!” Ramesh tweeted.
The Congress MP was referring to Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra, which entered Karnataka from Gundlupet last month, where the incident occurred on Saturday.
Somanna’s office later shared a video where the woman said she was not slapped but was only ‘consoled by the minister’.
“I bowed at his feet with the plea to grant me land and the minister lifted me consoling me that he would help me but it was publicized that he slapped me,” the woman accompanied by her children said in the video.