Kerala Electricity Minister MM Mani is at it again.
On Sunday, the Minister – who has been on a public rant against the Devikulam Sub-Collector V Sriram and the Idukki Collectorate’s anti-encroachment drive – dragged the women's organisation Pembilai Orumai into the fight, suggesting various sexual improprieties during their protests.
In September 2015, the women plantation workers in Idukki district had protested against Kannan-Devan Hills Plantations under the aegis of Pembilai Orumai, demanding better wages and working conditions for its 4000-odd women employees. Their agitation was carried out without any political interference at the time.
While speaking in Adimaly on Sunday, MM Mani alleged that women in Pembilai Orumai were involved in anti-social activities together with local bureaucrats.
"The media is hand-in-glove with bureaucrats here... they (media) are with him (V Sriram) in the evenings. Years back when Suresh Kumar came, there were cases of brandy that flowed into the government guest house... where they involved themselves in drinking and many other things," he said.
Suresh Kumar is the IAS officer who was part of the anti-encroachment drive in Munnar in 2006 spearheaded by then then Chief Minister VS Achuthanandan.
Pointing to the Pembilai Orumai agitation, the minister added:
"Then came Pembilai Orumai. The same thing repeated. Drinking alcohol and all sorts of indecent activity... everything was happening in the forest... at the time there was one DySP also... everyone was together in this. I know all of this. I know everything, I am just not revealing it all."
Mani's comments have sparked outrage in Munnar, with several Pembilai Orumai members taking to the streets in protest. Members, including their leader Gomathi Augustine, shouted slogans against the Minister and lay down on old Munnar road, refusing to move, unless the Minister met them to issue a public apology.
Lambasting Mani, Gomathi said that the organisation has launched an indefinite agitation against the Minister.
"Mani must come to Munnar, fall on our feet and apologise for his words. He has not only insulted us, but women across the state. What does he know about plantation workers? Does he think we are all whores? How dare he speak like this about an agitation that was launched for better pay and bonus?" a visibly furious Gomathi told reporters in Munnar.
Reiterating that they would not spare the Minister until he issues a public apology, Gomathi said that the Minister was entitled to give them an answer.
"What right does he have to speak about women? We will not spare him, our blood is boiling. Aren't you ashamed of yourself?" Gomathi asked.
Screengrab Courtesy: Asianet News
Asserting that Mani had won the Udumbanchola seat with the support of women, Gomathi continued, "Women have also voted for you, mind that. You do not deserve to be in the party of the government," Gomathi said.
Pembilai Orumai leader Gomathi Augustine, who had joined CPI (M) last year, had recently quit the party, alleging that the Left party was siding with the land mafia in Idukki rather than supporting the anti-encroachment drive.
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