Tripura BJP minister Manoj Kanti Deb has been seen groping a woman cabinet colleague, Santana Chakma, in a video of an event where Prime Minister Narendra Modi was present.
While Deb has given different reactions to this to different news outlets, the video which has gone viral, shows him touching Chakma inappropriately on stage before she brushes away his hand.
The incident took place during a rally in Agartala, but it is not clear exactly when it was held.
Deb’s reactions to the video varied across portals. To one, he claimed it may have happened by mistake, while he alleged ‘doctoring’ to another.
“These are all false propaganda being propagated against me. As in the video footage anyone can clearly see that she (Santana Chakma) came in front of me while Prime Minister Narendra Modi was inaugurating the function. By mistake I might have touched her but I had no wrong intentions, I was only trying to move her away as she came in front of me,” Deb told The Northeast Today.
Meanwhile, he told The Times of India, “How can this be possible and, that too, in the presence of the Prime Minister and a large crowd? Someone has to be of very dirty mentality to doctor the video of a programme. I was trying to come forward.”
Chakma is the social welfare and social education minister of the state.
The opposition in the state demanded action against Deb.
NDTV quoted Left Front convener Bijan Dhar as saying, “Manoj Kanti Deb must be sacked and be arrested for touching the woman minister in an extremely indecent manner on the stage from where Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb and others addressed the public gathering.”
However, Deb’s party colleagues have backed him, denying any misdemeanour on his part.
Victor Shom, BJP’s Tripura unite media incharge, told The Times of India that it was an effort of the opposition to malign the minister.
NDTV reported BJP spokesperson Nabendu Bhattacharjee as saying that the woman minister had not made a complaint about it and that the Left was playing “dirty politics”.