The minister’s ‘insensitive’ remarks while replying to a question on the rising Attappadi infant mortality rate came in for heavy criticism.

LDF minister in soup for saying not responsible for unhealthy pregnancies during UDF regime
news Controversy Monday, October 24, 2016 - 18:25

The controversy over AK Balan’s -Kerala Minister for Welfare of Backward Classes- remarks on the rising infant mortality rate among the tribal women of Attappadi in Palakkad shows no sign of dying.

Days after the minister’s comment was criticized as offensive and insensitive, and disrespectful to women, Ernakulam MLA Hibi Eden served a Right Violation Notice against the minister in the state Legislative Assembly on Monday. The MLA pointed out that the minister’s comment was against the interest of the tribes and that his subsequent explanation through a Facebook post on October 22 was inadequate.

Reacting to the notice, the minister said that the controversy was being created to malign the LDF government’s image, and that the Speaker can verify the contents of the said speech made on 19 October.

Answering a question posed by the Opposition, AK Balan had said that he “was not responsible for the pregnancy that was conceived at the time of the UDF rule.”

Speaking about the Janani Janmaraksha Scheme that provides monthly financial assistance to pregnant women in tribal hamlets, the Opposition had pointed out that there had been four infant deaths in Attappadi during the last three months.

Citing that the state Health Department had carried out all the necessary medical tests, AK Balan replied:

“Like the Opposition said, there have been four infant deaths, but malnutrition is not the reason for these deaths. One was abortion, which means the pregnancy was conceived in your term, not mine. For the second one, issues in the valve (heart) was the reason for the death. Again, I am not responsible for this, because though the delivery happened now, the pregnancy was conceived in your term!”

There was commotion in the Assembly following the minister’s remarks, with the Opposition taking umbrage, while the LDF MLAs including Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan burst into laughter.

The Speaker had to intervene and asked the Opposition members to be seated, saying that the minister had only said that it was a case of death due to abortion.

The Minister however was not done with his speech. Continuing from where he let off, Balan went on:

“I am not denying that there were four deaths. All I am saying is that malnutrition was not the reason. A woman cannot conceive and deliver a baby in four months, can she?”

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