Karnataka Minister Ramesh Jarkiholi resigned on “moral grounds” on Wednesday, March 3rd, after an alleged sex tape of his was aired by local news channels. Ramesh Jarkiholi’s alleged sex tape became a source of embarrassment for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and the leadership asked him to resign due to the forthcoming elections in neighbouring Kerala, Puducherry and Tamil Nadu. Ramesh Jarkiholi’s resignation was promptly accepted by Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa.
It’s alleged that Ramesh Jarkiholi sexually exploited a woman after promising her employment, which the 60-year-old politician vehemently denied. The alleged sex tape of Ramesh Jarkiholi didn’t show the face of the woman but him getting intimate with her. It’s alleged by activist Dinesh Kallahalli that Ramesh Jarkiholi allegedly raped a “job aspirant” and threatened her with dire consequences.
So far, no woman came forward to level charges against Ramesh Jarkiholi. Showing this anomaly, Ramesh’s brother and the BJP’s member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) Balachandra Jarkiholi sought an investigation by the federal Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and threatened to file a Rs 1 billion-worth suit. Balachandra Jarkiholi sought an investigation against those who have aired the alleged sex tape.
Ramesh Jarkiholi was a Congress legislator who played a major role, as a trojan horse, to topple the government run by the Congress party’s alliance with the Janata Dal (Secular) [JD(S)]. Due to his unmatched commitment to the cause of Hindutva fascism and his loyalty towards the BJP, Yediyurappa offered him a minister’s berth soon after forming the government. It’s alleged that the BJP had to pay a huge price to buy the loyalty of Ramesh Jarkiholi and other Congress party and JD(S) during the 2019 Karnataka Assembly crisis.
It’s not yet known whether Ramesh Jarkiholi’s alleged sex tape is genuine or whether the woman was exploited by the former Karnataka minister over the promise of employment. The allegations are serious and there must be a fair and impartial investigation to ensure that the victim, who may have suffered a lot of trauma, gets swift justice.
However, at the same time, when the opponents of the BJP like the Congress party and its allies demand the resignation of an MLA or a minister over the airing of an alleged sex tape, like in the case of Ramesh Jarkiholi’s alleged sex tape, without first verifying the nature of the content, ie, whether the former minister raped or sexually exploited a woman promising her employment, is another patriarchal hypocrisy that aids the ideology propagated by the BJP’s parent body Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
The sexual relationships of a legislator or a minister or anyone holding a public office are their personal matter unless it’s done by violating the rights of others, especially women, then it’s a matter that should be dealt according to provisions of the law. But in case a legislator or a public office-holder’s personal affairs are used on “moral grounds” to demand their resignation, then it exhibits sheer patriarchal hypocrisy.
A public office-holder or a common person, irrespective of their gender, isn’t answerable to the public for their relationships, which must be respected as a matter of privacy, one of the fundamental rights as declared by the Supreme Court.
In case Ramesh Jarkiholi’s alleged sex tape is a genuine one and he had exploited the woman sexually, then he must be held accountable, and the law must punish him for his deeds. However, in case Ramesh Jarkiholi’s private affair, which is consensual, is publicised for cheap publicity and to stoke the patriarchal “morality” of the masses to demand the ouster of the former minister, then it’s a dastardly act that shows the resemblance between the BJP and its opponents when it comes to misogyny. If Ramesh Jarkiholi’s alleged sex tape can immensely damage him, then similar accusations may pose serious threats to those who are next in the line.
As a woman must get the benefit of the doubt in a patriarchal society, efforts should be made to trace her and record her testimony. If the allegations are true, then Ramesh Jarkiholi must be booked, and proper procedures should start against him while the woman must be provided with security. In case it’s not proved that the woman in Ramesh Jarkiholi’s alleged sex tape was sexually exploited by the former minister, then action must be taken against those who aired the video with false claims.
If Ramesh Jarkiholi’s alleged sex tape is found to be a personal affair of the BJP leader, then the Opposition must answer to the public why it follows the RSS’s puritan, Hindutva-laced patriarchal morality as an absolute, non-negotiable entity? Why it resorts to personal character assassination to settle scores rather than defeating the BJP-RSS in the political arena? Such patriarchal hypocritic standards, then, must be condemned and trashed for the sake of upholding the women’s right to privacy and ‘choose’ a partner.