Shivamogga (Karnataka):

JD(S) leader HD Kumaraswamy on Monday said the party has decided to suspend Prajwal Revanna, his nephew and Hassan MP who is a Lok Sabha poll candidate in the current elections, over allegations of his sexual abuse of several women.

The former chief minister also sought to distance JD(S)’s alliance partner BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi from the case, amid attacks by the ruling Congress seeking their response on the issue.

Ms Prajwal is the BJP-JD(S) alliance candidate for the Lok Sabha election from Hassan constituency, which went to the polls on Friday.

“A decision was already made. Tomorrow it is to be recommended at the core committee meeting in Hubballi. Because he (Prajwal) is a Member of Parliament, it has to be done from Delhi. So I had requested Deve Gowda (JD(S) National President and former PM). Neither he (Gowda) nor I were aware of this issue,” Mr Kumaraswamy claimed.

Speaking to reporters, the JD(S) state chief said, “Some issues that have come out, on the basis of that it has been decided yesterday itself to suspend (him). But many were in a hurry.” The 33-year-old Prajwal Revanna is the son of HD Revanna, former Prime Minister and JD(S) patriarch HD Deve Gowda’s elder son who is an MLA and former minister.

Many explicit video clips allegedly involving Prajwal Revanna sexually abusing several women started making the rounds in Hassan in recent days.

The government has constituted a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the alleged sex scandal involving the MP.

Mr Kumaraswamy said that in his opinion, along with the SIT investigating the sexual abuse allegations against Prajwal Revanna, what also needs to be inquired into is where the pen-drives (containing alleged explicit video clips) were created and who circulated it in large numbers.

“So far, there are no direct allegations against Prajwal Revanna. If the charges are true…punishment should happen in accordance with law. There is no compromise. If Prajwal Revanna is wrong, our family is in agreement for action to be taken against him,” he said.

Reacting to Congress leaders trying to target BJP and PM Modi on the issue, Mr Kumaraswamy said, “Did PM Modi come for Prajwal Revanna’s campaigning? What does PM Modi have to do with this case? What does the BJP have to do with this? Why link this with them? What does Deve Gowda or Kumaraswamy have to do with this?” Earlier in the day, Mr Kumaraswamy said there is no question of defending Prajwal Revanna and that the party would take “merciless action” if the SIT probe proves the charges against the MP.

He also strongly objected to the names of his father Deve Gowda, among other family members, being drawn into the controversy.

“I want to ask Congress leaders, why bring family into it? Discuss about the individual. An individual and his deeds are in question here, not the family…why bring the family’s name, Deve Gowda’s name or Kumaraswamy’s name? I have myself said whoever has committed the mistake has to undergo punishment,” he added.

Stating that such incidents cause embarrassment to the society as a whole, Mr Kumaraswamy said there is no question of defending anyone. “Wrong is wrong, irrespective of who has committed it.” The police have information that Prajwal has left the country, according to a statement issued by the Chief Minister’s Office, which announced the SIT probe.

Asked about Mr Prajwal’s whereabouts, Mr Kumaraswamy said, “What should I say, if you ask me? Will he ask me and go anywhere…They, the government, will take action.” To a question whether he had no prior information about what was happening, he claimed, “Where did we know about the matter? They (Revanna family) are separate. If it had come to our notice we could have taken action and stopped this embarrassment from happening. This matter is about an individual’s background. Can we watch where he goes or comes every day? Is it in our hands?”

On whether there is a political conspiracy behind the leak of the video clips, the JD(S) state chief said, “That is also there. Let’s see. Let the SIT report come out. It is being said that the pen-drive (containing video clips) has been circulated. Some experts are behind it, let it come out.” He further said, “I want to tell SIT and the government to conduct a fair probe. Such incidents should not happen in society, in my opinion,” he said, adding that Deve Gowda and he have always conducted themselves with utmost respect towards women.

Stating that the development will have no impact on the results, Mr Kumaraswamy said, “In Hassan the NDA candidate will win; there is no doubt about it.” He further said, “He (Prajwal) will win with a good margin. But the developments that have taken place in the last few days have led to state-wide discussion. Who released (the video clippings), a few days ago, what was the reason for releasing it? An old subject has been raised now, why didn’t they raise the issue earlier but just days ahead of the election?…I don’t want to discuss it much.”

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)