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Scorned women legislators demand their pound of flesh

Assembly hath no fury like women shamed.

That, in a phrase, surmises what Kannada weekly Lankesh Patrike editors face today.

The cause was certain derogatory remarks which Patrike thought it okay to make against some women legislators in its latest issue.

And the effect? Well, the female legislators first stood up and had a good cry in the state assembly. And once through with it, decided to let their fury erupt.

Which it did. By way of a privilege motion, calling for an explanation from editor P Lankesh, the publisher and the reporter concerned -- to be filed before September 6 -- after which the house will decide whether/how to act.

When the issue rocked the house earlier Thursday, emotions ran high with at least two legislators -- Jyothi Reddy and H G Hemavathy -- breaking down.

"I am black, but my soul is white," said Hemavathy, referring to Patrike's comment about her complexion.

Lubricated by the profuse tears, the privilege notice which Bharatiya Janata Party member Pramila Nesargi moved, passed like a dream.

Speaker Ramesh Kumar adjourned the house to arrive at a decision by consensus. And when it met after a four-hour break, there was just one dissenter -- Kannada Chaluvali Vatal Paksha member Vatal Nagaraj who argued the matter did not attract any breach of privilege, though it might be defamatory.

The Patrike article, Nasargi said, contained remarks which 'would prevent the members from discharging their duty without fear'. She demanded the editor, publisher and reporter be summoned to the house for an explaination.

Besides Nesargi, the legislators named include Social Welfare Minister Vimlarai Deshmukh, Kannada and Culture Minister Leeladevi R Prasad, Vijayalakshmi Bandiside Gowda, Hemavathi and N Jyothi Reddy.

Prasad, on her part, alleged that the article was so timed to prevent the passage of the Women's Reservation Bill in Parliament.

For a change, all members were united on the issue.


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