“I was upset with the way the sub-collector addressed me, despite my being a people’s representative. This made me react without taking into consideration that she’s a woman,” said CPI (M)’s Devikulam MLA S Rajendran, as part of his half hearted ‘apology’ for his remarks against Devikulam sub-collector Renu Raj. The ruling party MLA was caught on camera insulting the IAS officer, for daring to issue a stop memo to an illegal construction.
“She doesn’t have brains. Just because she is an IAS, she is trying to act smart. People who study only to become a collector will only have so much brains,” Rajendran had said, in a video that has been aired on television channels in Kerala. And while he refused to apologise initially – in a debate on Asianet News, the MLA claimed there was no reason for him to apologise – he has now issued a patronising statement, where he has added that he will be taking the matter with the Kerala Assembly Speaker, for the sub-collector was ‘rude’ to him.
The ‘rudeness’ was basically a woman bureaucrat standing her ground. “The MLA had called me on the phone and spoke to me a little rudely and said that the construction (of the Munnar Panchayat shopping complex) will take place,” Renu Raj IAS told media channels, “I told him that if it happens, then I will have to take necessary action.”
Pressure builds on Rajendran, CPI (M)
Even this apology has come after massive pressure: the Kerala State Women’s Commission has taken suo motu cognizance of the issue; CPI (M)’s ally CPI has slammed the MLA; sub-collector Renu Raj has decided to approach the High Court against the MLA; and the CPI (M) has sought an explanation from Rajendran from his remarks;
"Two weeks back, we got an order from the High Court that if any construction takes place even after a stop memo is issued, then it should be brought to the notice of the HC,” Renu Raj said.
Speaking to Manorama News, Kerala Revenue Minister, E Chandrasekharan – who belongs to the CPI – on Monday said that the incident in which the MLA insulted the sub-collector shouldn’t have taken place. “The action taken by Renu Raj is hundred percent right. Illegal constructions are against the law, even if it is the Panchayat that is doing so,” said the minister. CPI State Secretary, Kanam Rajendran said that Renu Raj was doing her duty by preventing the illegal construction of the shopping complex and there was no need to look at the incident from a political angle.
CPI (M) district secretary KK Jayachandran on Sunday said that the party will take action against Rajendran for spoiling the name of the party. “The comments made by the Rajendran will negatively affect the CPM in the upcoming election,” Jayachandran was quoted as saying by TNIE, “He has got involved in the issue without informing the party. I’ve asked for an explanation from him.”
The illegal construction
The controversial remarks were made by S Rajendran on Friday when a team of revenue officials came to prevent the construction of a shopping complex of the Munnar panchayat, after Renu Raj had earlier given a “stop memo” to the construction, after it was found that the construction was happening without getting the No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the district collector. However, MLA S Rajendran claimed that there is no need to get any permission from the revenue department to do construction on panchayat land.
When the revenue officials came to prevent the construction of the shopping complex, they were blocked by the MLA and the panchayat president after which the MLA began to publicly insult the sub-collector as shown in the videos. In front of the revenue officials and the gathered public, Rajendran called the IAS officer ‘brainless’, and went on a tirade against her.