Expressing concern over attacks on young girls and women in the country, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday said the Congress government in Karnataka had failed to check crime against women in the state.

“The Congress government failed the state’s people in checking crime against women,” Sitharaman said while addressing an interactive women’s outreach programme organised by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) state unit ahead of May 12 Assembly polls.

Dubbing as “painful” the politicisation of crime against women, she said that the Congress government had “protected” perpetrators of such crime.

“Crime and violence against women have to prevented through stringent laws and action. The Congress, instead, has protected the perpetrators of crime,” Sitharaman claimed.

The country doesn’t need those political parties that only do “lip service” to women and not really act towards women empowerment, the BJP leader added.

In the wake of rape-murder of an eight-year-old in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua district in January, and a sexual assault on a teenager in Uttar Pradesh’s Unnao, the central government on April 21 passed the Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance, which allows to punish with death those convicted of raping a girl below the age of 12.

Terming Chief Minister Siddaramaiah government “arrogant and corrupt”, Sitharaman appealed to the urban women to vote for a change.

“It’s time to make Karnataka Congress-free,” she added.