New-age candidates from BJP and Samajwadi Party (SP) seem to be espousing the cause of decriminalization of homosexuality even as their parties steer clear of the issue.
Speaking at a “Meet your candidate” event held on Sunday, BJP’s Poonam Mahajan said she had a number of gay and lesbian friends and that she would work on persuading her party to adopt a constructive line on the issue. This even as BJP chief Rajnath Singh and several other party leaders as well as the RSS had welcomed the Supreme Court order that upheld the law criminalising homosexuality saying the party would not support anything “unnatural”.
Even as his party feels that homosexuality is unethical and against the Indian culture, SP’s Farhan Azmi said, “As long as public decency is maintained by both homosexual and heterosexual partners, one’s sexuality is a personal affair as long as it did not harm anybody else.”
Mahajan, Azmi, along with sitting MP Priya Dutt, Aam Aadmi Party’s Phiroze Palkhivala and Independent candidate Sonu Verma, all in the fray for the North Central Lok Sabha seat, answered a barrage of questions from locals at the event held at Apostolic Carmel School in Bandra West on Sunday morning.
Another topic that all candidates unanimously agreed upon was the need for a special CRZ status for Mumbai, while not diluting CRZ 1 provisions, given its typical coastal topography and space crunch. The event was not without its share of drama with Azmi mentioning an FIR filed by the police against sitting MLA Baba Siddique in an SRA scam and challenging the police to arrest Siddique, who had attended the event for a short while.
The candidates were also asked about their manifestos, to which Poonam Mahajan said the BJP manifesto would be released on Monday.
Azmi was asked about the constitutional validity of the SP’s promise of reservation for Muslims and of releasing Muslims “falsely implicated” in terror cases. He maintained his party wanted to work towards reservations for all minorities. He maintained that reservations would enable Muslims to move out of ghettos and join the mainstream.
Palkhivala had to answer whether he would also resign like Arvind Kejriwal after 49 days of winning the seat, to which he said, “ The Delhi government had resigned on grounds of principles,” adding that no government had accomplished as much in such a short period of time as the AAP government had in Delhi. More than 500 people attended the event organised by an NGO from the constituency.