The casteist cartoon which had been published on a Malayalam newspaper in Kerala sparked outrage.

They keep reminding me about my caste Pinarayi responds to casteist cartoon on him
news Politics Friday, January 04, 2019 - 09:23

Days after a casteist cartoon against Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan appeared in the context of the Women’s Wall issue, the Chief Minister responded to the incident on Thursday.

“This (casteist slur) is a new trick they have started using. They are constantly reminding me that I am of a certain caste. I have mentioned many times in the past that my father was a toddy tapper. My brothers too have done toddy tapping work. So they wish even Vijayan (referring to himself) does toddy tapping work. But what is the point of saying that. Times have changed. It’s modern times now and I wish the people who said these things understand that,” the CM said in a media interaction.

The cartoon which appeared on Malayalam newspaper Janmabhoomi, founded by the erstwhile Jan Sangh and now operating as a BJP mouthpiece, ridiculed the Chief Minister in the context of the Sabarimala issue, by referring to his caste and implying that he was unfit for the job.

Published last Monday in the cartoon column called ‘Driksakshi’ or eyewitness, which appears on page one of the newspaper everyday, the cartoon showed two people discussing the privilege motion that was moved against the Chief Minister for organising the Women's Wall. A third person is shown saying that such things should have been kept in mind while giving a plum post to a man who used to climb coconut trees.

The cartoon evidently alluded to the caste of the Chief Minister, who belongs to the Thiyya caste. The Thiyyas were a community of traditional toddy-tappers and are among the oppressed communities considered lower down the Hindu social hierarchy. The implication in the cartoon was that a person from a toddy tapper’s family is not apt for the job.

The incident snowballed into a full blown controversy and invited criticism even from non-leftists and non-Pinarayi supporters.

Following this, Janmabhoomi claimed to have fired the cartoonist responsible for the offensive content and even published an apology the next day.

The cartoonist Gireesh Moozhippadam,  who who has been drawing cartoons on the daily for the past 5 years said that the offensive cartoon was not vetted by the editors as per usual protocol. “There was an editor who used to check my cartoons before publishing and it should have been checked this time also. This time the editors might have got busy with some other thing. Now I have lost an earning,” Gireesh said. He also claimed that he had no intention to ridicule the Chief Minister and that the fact that his cartoon was offensive never came to his mind while creating it.

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