Indian media criticise Mulayam Singh Yadav's 'anti-women' remarks

Mulayam Singh Yadav is India's former defence minister Image copyright AP
Image caption Mulayam Singh Yadav is India's former defence minister

Media in India are outraged over prominent regional politician Mulayam Singh Yadav's comment that giving death penalty to rape convicts was "unfair".

Mr Yadav, who is the chief of the Samajwadi Party, reportedly said at an election rally that he opposed death penalty for rape convicts and his party would change the law if voted to power.

"Handing death sentence for rape is not fair... boys make mistakes... there will be changes in the law if we come to power," he reportedly said at an election rally on Thursday in Moradabad district of northern Uttar Pradesh state.

Newspapers and websites are criticising Mr Yadav for his "insensitive and unfortunate" comment, which came on a day India was voting in the third phase of the general election.

"Mulayam Singh Yadav sinks to a new low, defends rapists to woo voters," says The Times of India website.

"Even by his misogynistic standards, he seems to have sunk to a new low… The change in the laws was brought on after months of selfless demonstration by citizens striving to bring about a change in India's social outlook," the website says.

"By terming rape as 'just another mistake boys make, Mulayam has just rendered a slap in the face of their efforts", it adds.

The Hindustan Times says Mr Yadav's statement has come "at a time when women's security has emerged as one of the key issues in the elections, especially against the backdrop of the 16 December (2012) gang rape of a paramedical student in Delhi".

Mr Yadav also drew flak from political parties and women's rights activists, who condemned his statement as "insensitive and unfortunate".

Noted activist Ranjana Kumari called for Mr Yadav's arrest and urged the Election Commission to take note of the statement terming "rape a small mistake", the paper reported.

'Historic' voter turnout

Meanwhile, newspapers and websites see a high voter turnout on Thursday as "a healthy sign" for democracy in India.

The third phase of polling was held in 14 states and union territories - including Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Kerala.

Delhi saw 64.7% voter turnout, while Madhya Pradesh registered 55.98% followed by Maharashtra at 54.13%.

Uttar Pradesh, India's most populous state, registered a turnout of 65%.

The nine-phase vote began on Monday and will conclude on 12 May. Votes will be counted on 16 May.

The Pioneer says "it was a historic turnout across the country as the third phase… witnessed record voting in western UP, Delhi, Haryana, Chandigarh, and Kerala".

"In what could be called a carnival of democracy, men and women cutting across social and economic strata poured into 140,850 polling centres," a report on the Zee News website says.


And finally, Twitter on Thursday was flooded with "selfinks" as millions of young voters posted their pictures on the website after casting their ballots.

The Times of India describes "selfinks" as "a self-clicked mobile camera picture of one's inked finger post-voting".

Those who have voted "are eager to show that they have made their choice as a responsible citizen", it adds.

"I was excited and proud that I voted and I wanted the world to know," the report quotes Siddharth Yadav, a young voter, as saying.

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