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India politician seeking reelection accused of making 3,000 sexual assault videos, using them for blackmail

New Delhi — Prajwal Revanna, a member of India's parliament from the southern state of Karnataka, has left the country amid allegations that he sexually assaulted multiple women over the last few years and recorded the acts on his phone. Another politician, from an allied party, said he received a USB drive containing the videos, some of which have leaked online, and he's accused Revanna of using them to blackmail women into continuing sexual relationships with him.

Revanna is the grandson of former Indian Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda. He's currently a Member of Parliament for the Janata Dal Secular Party (JDS), which is allied with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP).

Revanna is seeking reelection to his seat in the general elections that kicked off last week. India's national election is taking place over about seven weeks, in phases, and is set to be the largest election ever held globally, with almost 1 billion eligible voters.

Voting begins in India's elections 01:46

Some of the video clips of the alleged sexual assaults involving the 33-year-old politician first leaked online just days before the polls opened in Revanna's constituency.

Revanna has denied the allegations and filed a police complaint alleging that the videos are manipulated. Soon after the videos leaked, two women appeared on local news outlet Power TV accusing Prajwal of sexual assault.

Separately, another woman, a 47-year-old who's worked at the politician's home, filed a police case alleging that she too had been sexually abused by Revanna multiple times between 2019 and 2022 — and once by his father HD Revanna.

The woman has also accused the younger politician of behaving inappropriately on a video call with her daughter, according to reports in Indian media. 

Janata Dal (Secular) Member of Parliament Prajwal Revanna is seen after attending a budgetary session of the India's legislature, in a June 26, 2019 file photo, in New Delhi, India. Sonu Mehta/Hindustan Times/Getty

Karnataka police have registered a case against Revanna on charges of sexual harassment, intimidation and outraging the dignity of a woman, and the state government has formed a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to look into the allegations.

Revanna has not been questioned or detained, however, as he reportedly left India soon after the leaked videos surfaced.

Prajwal's father, who's the leader of the JDS party and is also named in the police complaint, told journalists Monday that his son was traveling but would come back to India if and when required for the investigation.

The leadership of JDS announced Tuesday that Revanna's membership in the party had been suspended, but that move did not affect his role as the member of parliament for his district, pending the results of the ongoing election or any legal action against him. 

The prime minister's party has sought to distance itself from the controversy swirling around its political allies, but a local BJP leader, Devaraje Gowda, has reportedly issued the stunning claim that he warned BJP's leaders in Karnataka state against aligning with JDS a year ago, after receiving a "pen drive" he said contained 2,976 explicit videos of women.

"We will be tainted as a party that aligned with the family of a rapist," Gowda warned in a letter to BJP's leader in the state, according to the report by India's NDTV.

First Budget Session Of The 17th Lok Sabha
Indian Member of Parliament Mahua Moitra speaks to journalists as her fellow parliamentarian, Janata Dal (Secular) MP Prajwal Revanna, looks on after attending a budgetary session at Parliament House, June 26, 2019, in New Delhi, India. Sonu Mehta/Hindustan Times/Getty

India's main opposition party, called the Congress Party, held a protest in Bengaluru on Sunday and pointedly questioned the ruling BJP party's decision to ally with JDS despite the apparent knowledge of the videos.

"Why did the PM campaign for and shared the stage with Prajwal Revanna despite knowing that Prajwal is the kingpin of the world's biggest and murkiest sex abuse?" Congress leader Pawan Khera wrote in a social media post.

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