Online spar between Congress MLA and KR Meera takes ugly turn, writer gets abused

The exchange began over the recent political murders of two Youth Congress workers in Kasargod, and turned ugly when the writer’s page turned into a puddle of abusive comments.
Online spar between Congress MLA and KR Meera takes ugly turn, writer gets abused
Online spar between Congress MLA and KR Meera takes ugly turn, writer gets abused
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Facebook posts are being thrown back and forth between Congress MLA VT Balram and Malayalam writer KR Meera, even as this story is being written. The online spar that began over the murder of two Youth Congress workers in Kasargode recently, got ugly when the writer’s page turned into a puddle of abusive comments coming from Congress supporters and Meera began responding to them with more posts. 

It all began with a Facebook post Balram wrote a few days ago on his Facebook page, asking if writer KR Meera had said anything about the recent murders of the two Youth Congress workers in Kasargode. She had on the same day written a long post about political murders in Kerala, from the days she worked as a reporter for Malayala Manorama, and going to cover the death of BJP’s Yuva Morcha leader Jayakrishnan Master in 1999, to the recent killings of the young Congress men Kripesh and Sharath Lal.

Meera had in that post written how a few years ago, when she took part in an award function, she spoke about CPI(M) that once used art to reach out to people, losing their place when they took up arms in hand. She also wrote of TP Chandrasekharan, the slain RMP leader, who had once been a Communist worker, but later got killed by CPI(M) men when he split ways. But despite her jottings of the political murders over the years and of families of all parties living with the memories of their men being killed in front of them, Meera’s post appears to have offended Congress party supporters. They said she was being too soft on CPI(M), that she was trying to please the ruling party by speaking lightly of their acts. Balram edited his original Facebook post to add, “Ok she has finally spoken. Can tolerate the long preaching, but cannot stand her sarcastic responses to the comments. The literary heroine is enjoying it all.”

Meera responded with another Facebook post, addressed to future ‘literary heroines’ – the same coinage that Balram used for her – saying that if one day they leave their day jobs to write full time, none of the political parties would be there to support them. And here she mentions every political party one after another in poetic lines. She says the only people to stand with them would be their readers.

She then writes: “There would be some with plantain blocks (in an apparent reference to Congress men protesting the recent murders with plantain stems) who decide what you should say, some others with religious symbols who threaten you on what not to say. There would be some who call you names when you ask questions, and others to attack you and send people to say profanities to you. There are still others to burn newspapers and abuse you on social media. So dear future literary heroines, there are two ways before you – either stay quiet and become a good girl in front of these people mentioned above, or else speak as you wish and tell those who insult you, ‘Po mone Bala-rama’. Advice them gently to give ‘likes’ to those of their own level.”

Balram’s reply to this post turned offensive when he wrote, “If anyone wants to respond to this with Po mole ‘Meere’ I request them to not make the slightest change to that name. Be very careful when you type.” The post is an obvious reference to a profanity that the name Meera can become if you change a few letters.

Treating this comment like an invitation, Congress supporters and others took over the attack. While a few used sarcasm, many posted abusive messages, a trend that is visible every time a woman voices her opinion. 

In yet another post, made only hours ago, Meera continued her take, beginning with some praise on Indian National Congress president Rahul Gandhi, and going on to address the Balram situation. “In these times when communalism and religious hatred create so much fear, it is at Rahul Gandhi that all believers of democracy look hopefully on,” she writes. “The hope had doubled after learning about his interaction with students of the Delhi University. But it is soon after this that some people, under the instruction of a man called VT Balram, began calling me names (she specifies these names in Malayalam) on my Facebook page. It was a very interesting sight. At first it was Balram’s comment on my post. And then every other moment there would be 10 to 30 comments coming. Every one of these comments follows the same kind of language.”

She goes on to take a sarcastic note, calling the attention of Anil Antony, son of senior Congress leader AK Antony, who is in charge of the Congress IT Cell. She tells him the comments have all become repetitive, and some new words should be fed for a minimum enjoyment of reading. She then addresses the ‘Congress children’ who felt her words were not powerful enough (in criticising the Communists), telling them instead of going to the post office with plantain stems, why not have Balram fast, demanding that the CPI(M) leaders who planned the murder be brought before the law. She writes that once Balram is taken to the hospital (after he is too exhausted by fasting), she would take over under the following conditions: “the protest-fast should not be on Facebook, it should start today or tomorrow, Mahin Aboobakkar, Ashraf Aflah, and other minions (of Balram) who possess a wealth of profanities, should also be there.”

Other responses:

MP and Communist leader MB Rajesh took a dig at Balram through another Facebook post, saying that while he was looking for spelling mistakes in Meera's name, he should be careful that people don't change his own name to Theri Raman. Referring to the people Balram has been sparring with, Rajesh writes, "At first it was the woman agriculture officer, then AKG, then finance minister and Chief Minister. And now KR Meera." Rajesh says it is sad that there is no one in his party to advise the MLA who has invited his Facebook minions to write abusive comments to KR Meera. "A mature leader from the party which has such leaders as AK Antony and K Shankaranarayanan should advise him," Balram writes.

Congress leader and Kozhikode DCC president Adv T Siddique came in support of KR Meera, saying that it was not Congress culture to attack a writer in such substandard ways. He then quotes Meera's original post on political murders on his Facebook page and writes, "Should we not give her the consideration of having responded at least so much in a situation where 90 per cent of our cultural icons have gone to Kashi? She was not afraid to write against the CPI(M). But at the same time it is not acceptable that she called VT Balram Po Mone Balarama. I understand she has corrected it. We should not slip away from the topic of our brothers being murdered."

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