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Resign before January 26th: A call to 2 MPs and 42 MLAs tainted with crime charges against women
Given the uproar following the gang-rape and death of the 23-year-old girl, a nation-wide campaign has been launched calling the tainted ministers to resign before January 26 - the Republic Day of India. The campaign has been launched on Facebook at 'ResignBeforeJan26th,' and seeks resignation of 2 MPs and 42 MLAs charged with crimes against women.

THE GANG-RAPE of the young girl in December 2012, and her eventual death, shook the entire nation. The country rose from a slumber, and decided to raise a voice against one of the most potent issues of today – crime against women.

Discussions erupted on national television about the action that should be taken immediately. Many such discussions involved not only ex-policemen, bureaucrats, policy makers but also past victims who have fought with life and society.

But amazingly while every intellectual body and news channels have laid down their suggestions about the concrete steps to be taken and despite the government promising to set up a commission to look into the suggestions, and take necessary action, public anger refuses to subside.

The overall belief on the political promises, especially for this particular issue, don't seem to be working. Reason? Can people involved with the crime play any role whatsoever to condemn the criminals? Perhaps not. It is not only sexist comments and bizarre solutions that reflect the sheer ignorance of the political lobby around the issue but also their direct and indirect involvement with the crime makes them thoroughly incapable of taking any concrete action.

As per a latest report 2 Member of Parliament and 42 MLAs have been charged with various degrees of crime against women. Believing that such people (or their co-party workers) can debate in favour of passing a strong law seems to be only a wishful thought.

Mamta Sharma, Chairman, National Commission of Women, said that accountability of politicians should be the highest. "On moral grounds the two MPs and 42 MLAs should resign in the wake of the present public anger over crime against women. There is nothing wrong in making such demands. However, until and unless they are convicted, it totally depends on the self-consciousness of the accused MPs and MLAs and their respective parties, to take a call. But, in case they are proved guilty and convicted then they must be sacked."

Most people in India tend to people believe "nothing will change", and "this is too big/complex a problem to solve." This is true with regard to many of the issues that are bothering citizens; be it corruption, or be it the current issue. Periodically, there is intense focus and hysteria around an issue, and then it gets forgotten because there is no progress or something else becomes a headline. In 2011, it was corruption centered on Commonwealth Games and 2G scam. Gradually, disillusionment set in.

While crime against women has always been a persistent issue, it acquired a totally different kind of urgency and importance after the tragic gang-rape in New Delhi. In order to ensure that this issue doesn’t get forgotten, tangible and immediate outcomes are critical. Outcomes that everyone can relate to. Hence, the 'ResignBeforeJan26thCampaign" is sharply focused on getting some immediate results by January 26.

While crime against women is a complex issue involving a male-dominated society, however, weak governance and lack of exemplary punishments has brought this to a sorry state. It is in this context that a focus on MPs and MLAs becomes significant. If political parties, in taking decisive steps to get such lawmakers to step down, can set an example, it will have a cascading effect down the line. The message will spread - to local goons in politics and to cops who run amok - that crimes against women will no longer be tolerated.

Emotions are still riding high after the unfortunate death of the gang-rape victim. "The public anger on crime against women is justified. I agree with the demand made in the campaign. The campaigners should also reach the concerned political parties and build pressure on them that they expel such MPs and MLAs who have been charged for crimes against women. After expelling them from the party, speakers of the concerned state assemblies and parliament should be informed and a formal request be made for the further action against such tainted legislators," said Dr. Prem Singh, General Secretary and Spokesperson, Socialist Party (India).

The leadership of most political parties is comprised fundamentally of decent people, with many of them being run by women - with an iron hand! They would appreciate that voters are extremely concerned about this issue, and it is in the parties’ interest to take a strong (moral) stand on this topic even though these lawmakers may not have been convicted yet.

The group that has launched the campaign holds the ambition of creating a unified voice strong enough to persuade the authorities relent to the demand. The way forward is to have thousands of Indians to come forward to support the campaign on its facebook page ‘ResignBeforeJan26th’ and sign a petition that requests the President to persuade these lawmakers to step down.

While the initial group that launched this campaign includes eminent names from the business world including entrepreneurs and investors such as Sunil Kalra, Alok Mittal, Purvi Sheth, Rama Iyer, Suresh Shankar and Dev Raman and Srikant Sastri, the key success depends on the participation of hundreds of Indians on this issue. Given that time is short, we need immediate participation by everyone, in joining this campaign focused on crimes against women.

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