As if the reckless utterances by Samajwadi Party (SP) leaders on the rising incidents of rape in Uttar Pradesh were not enough, the state's part-time governor has gone ahead and pushed his proverbial foot tightly into his rather loud mouth by saying even God cannot stop rapes in UP.
Aziz Qureshi, the septuagenarian Uttarakhand governor, who was given additional charge of UP about a month ago when Governor BL Joshi quit, made the rather distasteful remarks while talking to reporters at the Raj Bhawan (Governor House) here on Monday, just a day before he returns to Uttarakhand. The new UP governor Ram Naik will be sworn in on Tuesday evening.
Recently, SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav earned the wrath of political opponents and social organisations when he said rape cases were minimal in UP. "If you consider the population of UP, which is 21 crore, the incidents of rape are very few in number," he had said.
"Agar Bhagwan bhi yahaan utar aayein toh rape nahin rok saktey," he said in answer to reporters' questions about the rising incidence of crime against women in UP. (Even if God were to descend here i.e. in UP, he would not be able to stop rapes.) "Rape cannot be stopped," he asserted in English.
However, His Excellency, as the Governor is ceremoniously referred to, did not stop there. He continued to wax eloquent on the subject, saying: "Duniya bhar ki police bhi aap yahaan laga dein, to bhi rape nahin rok paayenge." (You can't stop rape even if you bring in the police of the entire world here.)
An old Congress politician, known for readily forging relations in all parties, Qureshi was all praise for the Akhilesh Yadav government, in an obvious bid to strengthen his ties with the ruling party top brass even as he left. "The UP government is making all efforts to improve the (policing) system. There is need for improvement," he said.
Asked to expand on what kind of improvement was needed, not once did Qureshi point out any fault with the ruling party or the government. He sermonized only on how the police needed to improve their functioning.
"The police need to mobilize publice opinion, create an atmosphere and strike fear in the hearts of criminals," he said. "Police should do its work more diligently, investigate crime incidents and ensure punishment to the guilty," he continued.
The BJP has reacted strongly to the Governor's statements. "With all respect to the dignity of the high constitutional office he (Qureshi) holds, I would like to say that he should have thought twice before making those comments so casually," said BJP spokesman Vijay Pathak. "People of his stature should learn to speak more responsibly and carefully," he added.