Karnataka Minister for Housing and Infrastructure Development Department V Somanna was caught in a controversy after a video, purportedly showing him slapping a woman at Hangala village in Gundlupet went viral.
The minister was handing over property documents, hakku patra, when the woman was seen approaching him. Kempamma, a single mother of two, was trying to raise a grievance with the minister.
The woman later said the minister had not intentionally slapped her. She added that she was trying to touch Somanna’s feet.
Sources said Kempamma wanted to inform the minister that her name was missing from the list of beneficiaries of the government scheme, which allotted housing sites to the poor.
Congress leader blamed
She blamed those handling the programme for the omission. A few other women alleged nepotism in selecting the beneficiaries. They said already possessing sites and property have been selected at the behest of a local Congress leader.
Kempamma was trying to raise the complaint with Somanna. Sources said the woman forcefully entered the dais and was abusive. She was reportedly heckled by several people, and women police personnel tried to prevent her from approaching the minister.
Sources in the minister’s security detail said Somanna was initially confused. Witnesses said when she was ‘reprimanded’ when she continued using profanities.
Later, Kempamma said in a video that she attempted to approach the minister to raise the complaint, but people, including the police, prevented her. She then forced her way towards the minister and fell on his feet. It was then that the minister allegedly slapped her.
A few hours later, another video of Kempamma surfaced. The woman said that the minister had not slapped her intentionally. She added that the minister had promised to look into her request.
When contacted, Somanna’s team forwarded yet another video in which Kempamma was seen saying that the minister had addressed her concerns, and thanked him.
Incidentally, Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra was well-received in the village.