Former India PM urges lawmaker grandson to surrender in rape case

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - A former Indian prime minister, an ally of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, urged his lawmaker grandson on Thursday to return to India and face the law in connection with rape and sexual harassment cases filed against him, amid a general election.

Prajwal Revanna, 33, the grandson of former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda, is a member of parliament from the Hassan constituency in the southern state of Karnataka and is seeking re-election in the ongoing national elections.

He was suspended from his Janata Dal (Secular) party - an ally of Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party - after the allegations against him surfaced last month, and his father, who is a former Karnataka minister, was arrested for alleged involvement in the abduction of one of the women linked to the cases.

Multiple women have accused Revanna of sexual assault and recording sexual acts, with several videos surfacing days before the vote in his constituency, according to local media reports.

Urging his grandson to face the law, Gowda, in a statement posted on X, said that if Revanna did not heed his warning he would face the anger of all his family members.

"The law will take care of the accusations against him, but not listening to the family will ensure his total isolation," Gowda, 91, said, adding that there would be no interference from his family in the investigation.

"There is no emotion in this regard in my mind...there is only the cause of justice for those who have suffered as a result of his alleged actions and misdeeds," he said.

The foreign ministry has said Revanna travelled to Germany last month and it is considering Karnataka state's request to cancel his diplomatic passport.

His relatives and officials say his current whereabouts are unknown.

The case became a flashpoint in the country's seven-phase elections, which will conclude on June 1, with opposition leaders criticising Modi and his government for allowing Revanna to flee.

Modi has said he has "zero tolerance" for such crimes. On May 1, Revanna posted on X that he needed time to return to India and face investigators, adding "truth will prevail".

(Reporting by Sakshi Dayal; Editing by YP Rajesh and Ros Russell)