The leader of India’s third biggest political party has sparked fury as tens of millions vote in the country’s national election, by promising to scrap the recently-introduced death penalty for rape claiming ‘men make mistakes, why hang them?’
Mulayam Singh, leader of the Samjawadi Party, said he would repeal the law introduced in response to public outrage over a fatal gang rape in New Delhi in 2012.
Addressing a rally in Moradabad, in the key state of Uttar Pradesh, Mulayam said: ‘Rape accused should not be hanged. Men make mistakes.
‘Efforts will be made to change such a law, so that those misusing it are punished. Those filing false reports will also be taken to task’
Yadav, whose party pledges to represent ‘other backward classes’ said relationships between ‘boys and girls’ often break up.
He added: ‘If boys and girls have difference, and the girl goes and gives a statement that I have been raped, then the poor fellows are punished.
‘Two or three have been given the death sentence in Mumbai.
‘We will change such laws when we come to power … we will also ensure punishment of those who report false cases.’
Rival politicians were quick to condemn his comments, and back the new law.
In a statement the Indian National Congress said: ‘We condemn Mulayam Singh’s statement. There should be zero tolerance for rape and crime against women,’
Tens of millions of Indians cast their votes across India’s key heartland states with some pollsters predicting a record turnout.
Nearly 110 million people were eligible to vote in the third phase of the elections in 92 constituencies in 11 of India’s 28 states and three federally administered union territories.
Suspected Maoist rebels, who have urged a boycott, briefly disrupted voting in their strongholds in eastern Bihar state and neighboring Chattisgarh, killed two soldiers in a bomb attack.