By Quaid Najmi
Mumbai, Jan. Jan 14 (IANS): In a bizarre twist to the case of rape allegations against Maharashtra Minister Dhananjay Munde, an Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader on Thursday claimed the same woman had been trying to 'honey-trap' him in a similar fashion for several years.
Ex-legislator and Mumbai BJP Vice-President Krishna Hegde said that the woman has been continuously calling him, messaging him and even coaxing him since 2010 to enter into a relationship with her.
"This harassment went onto the point of 'stalking' by her. Through my sources, I found that she is a dubious person who sets up honey-traps to lure people, so I completely avoided meeting her," Hegde told mediapersons.
In order to bolster his claims, Hegde visited the Amboli Police Station and lodged a former complaint against the woman, and demanded a thorough police probe into the incident.
The matter suddenly came as a booster for the beleaguered Social Justice Minister Munde who has tottered on the brink since the past two days besides causing huge embarrassment to the ruling Shiv Sena-Nationalist Congress Party-Congress Maha Vikas Aghadi Government.
Though NCP President Sharad Pawar termed the allegations against his party minister as "of a serious nature", top leaders later decided that they would await the outcome of the police probe before taking any punitive measures against Munde.
A visibly relieved Munde this evening said that "I have not offered to quit nor my resignation is sought", the party was kept informed of the matter since over two months, and now he would abide the decision of Pawar and the party leadership.
On his part, Hegde added that after the entire matter blew up a couple of days, he received several calls from others including a Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) leader with similar experiences concerning the woman.
"I have been told that some more people have fallen into her trap and money was extorted from them Manish Dhuri of MNS has also called me that he faced the same issues I had with her, possibly he can elaborate on it. The Mumbai Police should kindly investigate this matter deeply," Hegde urged.
Meanwhile, the self-confessed victim's lawyer Ramesh Tripathi this evening dismissed all allegations against his client.
The city BJP vice-chief - who is linked in the entertainment, sports and glamour industry - said that after he ignored her calls and refused to meet her, the harassment, calls and messages stopped after 2015.
"I clearly told her that I am not interested in meeting her and she could forget about having any kind of relationships with me as she sought," said Hegde.
However, again last week (Jan. 6 and 7, 2021), he said that she sent him WhatsApp messages, but he didn't respond except sending a 'thumbs up' emoticon.
"A couple of days back, I was shocked to see and read her allegations against Minister Dhananjay Munde in the entire media, whom I don't (personally) know. This is when I decided to inform you about her," the BJP leader said in his police complaint.
"Today, they have targeted him (Munde), a couple of years ago, it could have been me and tomorrow it will be someone else. This is a process to lure, honey-trap, blackmail and extort money and I would request the Mumbai Police to lodge a First Information Report (FIR) against her and take the matter to its logical conclusion," Hegde appealed.
Nevertheless, a section of BJP leaders - who labelled the MVA government as full of 'rapists, criminals and fraudsters' - continued to demand Munde's resignation on moral grounds and to ensure that the alleged victim could secure justice from the police.