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Kerala minister booked for lewd comments, says ready to quit if party wants

Kerala’s power minister MM Mani allegedly made lewd comments, questioning the character of women activists who had last year held a series of protests against plantation companies.

india Updated: Apr 24, 2017 18:50 IST
Ramesh Babu
Ramesh Babu
Hindustan Times, Thiruvananthapuram
MM Mani,Kerala,Power Minister
MM Mani has been accused of making offensive remarks against women. (Photo courtesy: Kerala govt website)

Kerala Police on Monday registered a case against controversial minister MM Mani, who allegedly made lewd comments against a women’s collective of Munnar at a public meeting.

As pressure mounted on him, the power minister said he has never insulted women and offered to quit if his party, CPI(M), wanted.

State women’s commission member J Prameela, who visited the members of the women’s collective Pembilai Orumai who are fasting in Munnar, has asked the Idukki police superintendent to book the 70-year-old minister under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code.

With the state constitutional body directing police to file a case, Mani -- notorious for his off-the-cuff remarks -- has little options before him. Meanwhile, people in Idukki district observed a shutdown to protest the minister’s comments.

Mani’s remarks allegedly questioning the character of women activists, who had last year held a series of protests against plantation companies, have invited widespread criticism from many quarters including his own party leaders.

Chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan and party secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan had disowned his speech and CPI leader Annie Raja sought his immediate resignation.

The minister had expressed regret on Sunday but members of Pembilai Orumai wanted him to visit their fasting venue and tender a personal apology.

“He has to tender a personal apology for questioning our moral background. We never expected a Communist leader will stoop so low,” said Gomati, leader of the women’s collective.

However, Mani reiterated that his remarks were wrongly interpreted by the media and he never made any offensive remarks against women.

“Let them sit there and protest. People know who is behind this unwanted stir,” he said, adding that with his regret, the chapter should have been closed.

This is not the first time Mani is courting controversy.

Addressing a rally three years ago, Mani, then the Idukki district secretary of the CPI(M), had said the party often resorted to political killings and warned that the murder of Marxist rebel TP Chandrasekhran was not the last one.

He gave a blow by blow account of how the party carried out these murders. “We had prepared a list of 13 people and killed the first three. The first one was shot dead, the second beaten to death and the third was hacked to death,” he said.

His speech had triggered a nationwide protest and later he was suspended from the state committee. Though the party central leadership wanted stern action against him, the state unit was not ready to dump the senior leader, who was the Idukki district secretary for more than 25 years.

When he was made a minister, there were reports that many leaders, including party general secretary Sitaram Yechury, had serious reservations. But the CM had prevailed, saying he will keep a tab on the minister.

First Published: Apr 24, 2017 18:48 IST