CPI(M) leader's daughter says she was told to leave govt job after son attended BJP rally

Asha Lawrence, daughter of MM Lawrence, says she received verbal intimation of her firing, and SIDCO officials’ changing attitude around a previous case she filed, show political influences working against her.
CPI(M) leader's daughter says she was told to leave govt job after son attended BJP rally
CPI(M) leader's daughter says she was told to leave govt job after son attended BJP rally

News reports have indicated that Asha Lawrence, the daughter of CPI(M) leader MM Lawrence, had been told to leave her job at the Kerala Small Industries Development Corporation Limited (SIDCO), after her son was photographed at a BJP-led rally against women’s entry at Sabarimala on October 30. However, speaking to Asha and SIDCO officials, there appears to be more to the story.

Speaking to TNM on Friday morning, Asha said, “On Thursday, the SIDCO MD [KB Jayakumar] told me verbally that I would be asked to leave by Friday. I haven’t received any other written order or communication on the matter.” On Friday morning, Asha said she saw media reports that she was going to lose her job, despite still not having received official confirmation from SIDCO.

Asha is certain that the MD’s verbal intimation to her on Thursday that she would be asked to leave her post by Friday, was because of her son attending the BJP rally. She also tells us about a previous incident, the progress of which, Asha feels, also speaks of political forces working against her as a consequence of her son attending this rally. The case she mentions is a case that she filed within the organisation and later to police about alleged harassment at the hands of Kodiyeri Balakrishnan's sister-in-law, who also works at SIDCO. “[She] had been speaking to and about me in a very insulting manner, making false allegations that I, being a divorcee with no family, was calling young men on the phone and other things,” Asha said. “At that time, the MD had said that this harassment case needed to be investigated, and was a serious case that needed to be looked into by the police. They kept saying that action would be taken today, taken tomorrow, but no action has been taken so far and I am just made to run around.”

But now, according to Asha, the MD appears to have changed his tune. “Ever since the rally, the MD’s behaviour towards me has changed, his treatment of me is surly, completely different than before. The MD told me that the ‘situation’ around this [harassment] case has changed. The MD it seems cannot make a decision in this case in favour of someone who allegedly has the support of the BJP [due to her son’s involvement in the Sabarimala rally]. It was the decision of CPI(M) members to appoint the MD to his seat, and if he supports me in this case now, he is afraid his seat will go.”

“I filed this complaint long before my son attended the BJP rally, which was completely his right to do. The MD and others in the organisation did not object to my filing the complaint at that time, and in fact encouraged me to do so saying that harassment should not take place in the organisation," she says.

About her son’s reasons to attend the rally in question, she says, “He attended it because he is a strong Ayyappa devotee, I also am. We both do feel opposed to the Supreme Court verdict. He is about to turn 18 and he has the right to attend any rally to express his opinion.”

However, SIDCO MD KB Jayakumar paints a slightly different picture. Speaking to TNM, he said, “Asha is a daily wage worker, not a permanent employee. As such, she is asked to work on the days where her work is required. Her manager has the right to tell her not to come for a couple of days if her work is not required, and I am not aware if this is the case.” When asked if she had received any communication that she would required to leave her job permanently, he says carefully, “I know that she has not been given any written communication to leave her job. She is required to leave her job only if she receives such a written direction.” However, he neither confirmed nor denied that she had received a verbal directive or intimation that she would be asked to leave.

Asha said that she has been working continuously as a daily wage worker at SIDCO since 2016. She also pushed back against Jayakumar’s claim that there was possibly a lack of available work at SIDCO. Asha said there were no large gaps in her employment, with the exception of leave she took from October 1 to 15 this year for personal reasons.

When speaking to TNM on Friday morning, Jayakumar also said that he was presently on the way to a meeting at SIDCO to be held on Friday afternoon to discuss the status of her harassment complaint, and that a decision on the same would be taken after the meeting.

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