‘Not derogatory’: Kerala Congress chief sticks to ‘Covid Rani’ remark against health minister
After his ‘Covid Rani’ and ‘Nipah Rajkumari’ remarks against state health minister K K Shailaja triggered a controversy, Kerala Congress president Mullapally Ramachandran on Saturday said his words were twisted by a section of the media. He also said there was no need for him to apologise over the issue.
Ramachandran said he used these epithets with a good intention to expose the state’s failure on Covid-19 battlefront. “I stick to what I said. Queen and Rajkumari are not derogatory terms. I always hold women in high esteem.”
He went on to justify his remarks, saying, “Recently a UK paper (The Guardian) had called the minister a ‘rock star.”.
The PCC president had made the controversial remarks against the health minister on Friday while inaugurating the one-day sit in protest of opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala demanding withdrawal of a government circular making Covid-19 free certificates mandatory for expatriates returning from the Gulf countries.
“The minister is trying to get the label of ‘Covid Rani’ and earlier she was fighting for the title of ‘Nipah Rajkumari’,” he had said adding she was after records and laurels and not interested expatriates dying steadily in Gulf countries.
He also reiterated his charge that the health minister was only a “guest artist” during the 2018 Nipah outbreak in north Kerala. “Nipah outbreak happened in my constituency while I was Vadakara MP. The minister was camping at the guest house. Her role was only limited at that time and rest was publicity,” he said.
As the PCC chief, also a former minister, stuck to his position, many senior leaders and others criticised him. They included Sajeesh, the husband of Lini Puthserry, a nurse who was at the forefront of helping Nipah victims at Kozhikode in 2018, but died, succumbing to the disease. Sajeesh said he was pained over the Congress leader’s comments. He said when his wife died Ramachandran, then MP, even failed to make a call to him.
But Ramachandran denied the allegations and released some photos and a letter to cite that he was active in his constituency during the niaph outbreak. He said health workers and doctors fought nipah valiantly and credit should go to them.
The Congress, however, has not reacted to Ramachandran’s remarks so far. When asked about this AICC general secretary KC Venugopal said he was not aware of what exactly the PCC president had said and will find out details from him.
Meanwhile, the CPI(M) women and youth wings took out protest rallies against the Congress leader at many places in the state, saying he “insulted the minister.”
The first state to report Covid-19 cases in the country, Kerala had reported 2,912 infections till Saturday morning, as per the Union health ministry dashboard. These include 1,380 active cases and 21 deaths from the disease.