In an incident that is bound to raise eyebrows and stoke controversy, picture of rape accused legislator Kuldeep Singh Sengar was seen on Independence Day greeting advertisements along with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath in the local edition of a Hindi newspaper.
The full-page advertisement has been funded by Anuj Kumar Dikshit, who is the Panchayat chairman of the Ugnoo area in Unnao district.
Speaking to India Today, Dikshit said "Media is acting as a court in Kuldeep Sengar case. He is being unnecessarily framed and there is a political conspiracy behind it. However, this matter is pending in court. If the court gives a verdict against him then only we can hold him guilty. He may have been expelled from the BJP [Bharatiya Janata Party] but I have got this advertisement published with his picture because of my personal relations with him."
Meanwhile, the opposition has targeted the BJP for still endorsing him despite being booked under rape and murder charges.
Kuldeep Singh Sengar was expelled by the BJP earlier this month. "The advertisement published in the newspaper also has a picture of UP CM [Yogi Adityanath] with Sengar. If CM's permission was not taken then he should take action against the Panchayat chairman. It's very clear that the Yogi Adityanath government tried its best to save the rape accused BJP MLA. He was expelled after media and opposition actively raised this issue" said Uttar Pradesh Congress leader Dwijendra Tripathi.
Responding to the opposition charge, state BJP spokesperson Rakesh Tripathi said, "During the Independence Day, the Nagar Panchayat and Palika give such advertisements in the newspapers to spread awareness and highlight their achievements."
Tripathi said, "Kuldeep Singh Sengar has been expelled from the BJP but he hasn't been disqualified as an MLA. He is MLA from the area and that's why his picture is there in the advertisement. He cannot be held guilty because the Supreme Court has still not delivered its verdict."
Last week, a Delhi court had framed charges against Kuldeep Singh Sengar in the rape case against him.
Another case was registered against the former BJP leader after the victim and her family members met with a deadly accident last month.
The rape survivor along with her lawyer is undergoing treatment at AIIMS in Delhi, while two of her relatives succumbed to injuries immediately after the road accident.