Tripura minister denies she was groped by colleague at PM rally

Tripura sports minister Manoj Kanti Deb has rejected the allegations

Both the ministers who were at the centre of a ‘groping’ controversy on Tuesday have rubbished the allegations.

“There is no ill motive involved. There are certain people in opposition who are trying to politicise it by blowing it out of proportion,” Santana Chakma, the woman minister, on Tuesday told indianexpress.com.

The video in question purportedly showed the BJP leader and Tripura Minister for Sports and Youth Affairs Manoj Kanti Deb groping a woman member of the cabinet during a rally of Prime Minister Narendra Modi last week. Manoj Kanti Deb was simply trying to get ahead of minister Santana Chakma to have a better view of the Prime Minister on the dais, BJP leaders have said in his defence.

The BJP has also dismissed the allegations as “character assassination”.

Deb said the allegations against him were not true. “I was trying to go in front of the minister, Santana Chakma, to have a better view of the Prime Minister’s inauguration event. Since she was standing in front of me, I tried to move her aside. That’s all,” Deb said. He added that the allegations were testimony to the low taste of the Opposition parties in the state.

Prime Minister Modi Saturday visited Tripura to inaugurate a statue of Maharaja Bir Bikram Kishore Manikya Bahadur, the last reigning king of Tripura, at MBB Airport. Later in the day, he addressed a rally at Swami Vivekananda Maidan where he inaugurated two projects via remote control. Soon a video clip went viral on social media where minister Manoj Kanti Deb was seen touching Minister for Social Education and Social Welfare Santana Chakma on the waist and she brushing away his hand.

(The Indian Express could not independently authenticate the video)

Tripura Congress vice-president Tapas Dey has demanded an inquiry into the incident. “Such incidents should not happen in public life. It is highly undesired. It should be properly investigated,” he said.

CPI(M) woman frontal organisation All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) held a rally in Agartala on Monday demanding the minister’s sacking and arrest. AIDWA leaders Rama Das, Krishna Rakshit, Panchali Bhattacharjee and others demanded that legal action be initiated.

Speaking to the indianexpress.com, BJP spokesperson Dr Ashok Sinha said the controversy was raked by “opportunist opposition” leaders who had no other issue in hand. He criticised the CPI(M) and Congress for engaging in “character assassination”.

(With inputs from Indian Express)