Harassed husbands, upset over “rampant misuse” of women-oriented laws like the domestic violence act (DV Act) and the dowry prohibition laws, want to vote the Congress out of power.
Their main grudge is against women and child development minister Renuka Chowdhury, who was instrumental in bringing in the DV Act. “She was actively pursuing the Sexual Harassment at Workplace Bill. Why get only laws to protect women when men too are victims of domestic violence and sexual harassment? Our demand is to make laws gender-neutral. However, when we suggested means to prevent misuse of the laws, Chowdhury was rude to us and did not incorporate our views,” said Swarup Sarkar of Save Family Foundation (SFF).
Sarkar claims that in the last five years over 56,000 men committed suicide due to marital disputes but the government remains insensitive.
More than a dozen men’s organisations like the SIFF, Protect Indian Family, Gender Human Rights Society, MyNation Foundation, having membership running into lakhs, are aggressively campaigning against the Congress.
“We launched our campaign on March 26. Thereafter, a lot of parties approached us supporting our campaign. We are campaigning to expose the Congress’s anti-husband and anti-family policies. Over one lakh families were destroyed during its reign, as disgruntled women used these laws to falsely implicate their husbands and in-laws,” Sarkar said.
A campaign that began through emails, SMS and blogs is slowly building into a mass movement, with many rival parties secretly pledging them support. For instance in Bangalore, BJP workers are helping them by printing one lakh pamphlets. In some other areas, their activists are given a platform to air their views.
At places the harassed hubbies are tying up with various parties, even contesting, or using their platforms to cut into Congress votes. Many members are also contesting as Independents.
Sudhir Anand, a merchant navy consultant, is in the fray from New Delhi. “I may go independent or with the Bharat Punarniman Dal (of IITians) or the Youth for Equality,” said Anand. Similarly, there are candidates from Kanpur, Bangalore, Chennai, Nagpur and Mumbai.
Even in Renuka Chowdhury’s Khamman constituency, the hubbies are aggressively supporting a rebel Congress candidate.
Winning may be a distant dream, but the husbands hope to swing at least 2-3% votes against the Congress.
“We want to convey a message to all political parties that if you do such a thing, you may lose elections,” Sarkar said.