Congress leader back in key position after out on harassment charges


When the Congress party appointed a secretary to oversee key northeastern states of Tripura, Nagaland and Sikkim last week, they reopened a sexual harassment case that they thought was dealt with last year. Ranajit Mukherjee, 41, resigned in 2020 after an internal inquiry was conducted by former Rajya Sabha member Rajeev Gowda, head of the party’s research department of which Mukherjee was a member.

The inquiry took place after a member of the National Students’ Union of India (NSUI), the party’s student arm, complained about him in writing, and another colleague in the research department reported “inappropriate behaviour’’ during the 2018 Rajasthan assembly elections.

After Mukherjee’s recent appointment, the women have raised questions about the propriety of assigning a key leadership role to him. While the Congress party hasn’t responded, Mukherjee said that he has been punished long enough, and the party was recognising the hard work that he has done since. “I have had a consensual relationship after I was estranged from my wife. This matter blew up in 2019-20. I voluntarily resigned and opened up to my family, and it led to my divorce this year. The party has acknowledged that I made an error in judgement,” he said. “I have been kept away from a party position for more than a year. I have been working diligently and party has recognised my work and given me responsibility. I cannot be punished forever.’’

The two women, however, told that the party has erred in giving a supervisory role to Mukherjee when his behaviour showed a pattern.

“There are others besides me who have fallen prey and can vouch for the same,” the main complainant wrote in an email on Friday to party leaders, including Rahul Gandhi. “I have been quiet because I do not want our political opponents to hurt the Congress party using this as a tool. The appointment of a proven sexual predator would only harm the Congress party.... Please follow the official procedure and remove him from the post.’’

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