It is not new for women in politics to be slandered. And that's what A Vijayaraghavan, senior leader of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the convenor of the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) did when he mocked UDF candidate from Alathur, Ramya Haridas.
Addressing an election rally in Ponnani in the Malappuram district of Kerala on Monday evening, Vijayaraghavan said, “The girl who is contesting from Alathur (referring to Ramya Haridas) after filing nomination first rushed toPanakkad Syed Hyderali Shihab (IUML supremo) and later to meet PK Kunhalikutty (IUML leader and Malappuram UDF candidate). I don’t know what will happen to her now.”
This statement had created controversy as he was making an indirect reference to a sex scandal case, in which Kunhalikuty was an accused, but was later cleared off charges.
“I didn’t expect such a remark by a representative of the Left, which constantly talks about the security for women. There are still many Scheduled Caste women like me who are yet to come forward into the mainstream. I hope they don’t have to go through such problems,” said Ramya Haridas. She goes on to add that she had discussed the issue with the UDF leaders and is willing to take legal action against Vijayaraghavan.
Ramya further said, “It is an ideological war that is taking place here and there was no need of a character assasination here especially when I was just going about with my duty and election campaigning.”
Instead of apologising to Ramya, Vijayaraghavan said on Wednesday, "My intention was never to hurt Ramya Haridas. It was a political speech and was a criticism on the politics of the United Democratic Front (UDF).”
He then claimed that he would never hurt women. “I’m someone who believes that women should come to the mainstream and should be given acceptance by political parties. I would never say or write anything that would hurt any women," he said.
Speaking to the media, he went on to add that he had “naturally” mentioned in his speech that all the 20 UDF candidates will lose in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections and that he never personally targeted anyone.
The controversial statement by the LDF convener had met with heavy criticism from all corners including from former Kerala CM, Oommen Chandy and Mullappally Ramachandran, the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president.
Condemning the remark made by the LDF convener against her, Ramya said that this remark comes at a time when the LDF under the Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan is upholding women’s rights and renaissance movements in the form of the women’s wall.
Meanwhile, former Kerala CM and member of the All India Congress Committee (AICC), Oommen Chandy lashed out at Vijayaraghavan for his remarks and demanded a public apology from the LDF. According to a report by The Hindu, Oommen Chandy said that the Congress would make the attitude of the LDF a talking point in the elections.
On the other hand, KPCC president Mullappally Ramachandran said that the remarks made by the LDF convener reflected the mindset of some Communist leaders.