Kerala minister and CPI (M) leader MM Mani's comments on the women's group Pembilai Orumai has stirred a hornet's nest.
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.
Hours after a controversy broke out over his comments, political reactions poured in, with BJP state president Kummanam Rajashekharan reiterating Pembilai Orumai members' demand that the minister resign from his post.
While the NDA has called for a dawn-to-dusk hartal on Monday, the Congress has decided to observe the day as black day (Karidinam).
Condemning MM Mani's remarks, BJP state president Kummanam Rajeshekharan said that the day women beat Mani with brooms was not far away.
"A minister who abuses people is a shame for the whole state. The Chief Minister must clarify why MM Mani was given the ministership. Is he allowed to continue because there is no other MLA who is eligible to replace him? The CM must explain why Mani must continue as a minister," Kummanam said.
CPI(M) state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan meanwhile said that if the minister had indeed said so, then it was not right.
Speaking to reporters in Kozhikode after visiting the house of Jishnu Pranoy, he said, "I do not know what Mani's complete speech was. I did come across a few media reports about his remarks. If at all that is true, then it is not acceptable. Party will enquire the circumstances in which the minister made the comment. CPI(M) state secretariat will discuss the matter."
CPI(M) party veteran VS Achuthanandan too, was not kind to the minister. He maintained that Mani had insulted women through his words and that such behaviour was not in tandem with the Communist ideology.
Meanwhile, after his comments sparked outrage in political circles in the state, MM Mani himself came out with a clarification.
Not surprisingly, the minister claimed to have not made anti-women remarks.
"I did not intend to insult anyone. I have not even taken anyone's name in my speech. I suspect that my speech was edited to create a misunderstanding and someone has clearly influenced the Pembilai Orumai protest today," Mani told reporters.