LDF allies spar over CPI(M) MLA Mani’s ‘vulgar’ remarks on UDF MLA, CPI leader
During the assembly session on Thursday, many leaders pointed out the misogynistic nature of Mani’s comments against Rema

LDF allies spar over CPI(M) MLA Mani’s ‘vulgar’ remarks on UDF MLA, CPI leader

The remarks made by CPI(M) legislator MM Mani against UDF MLA KK Rema, during a Kerala legislative assembly session on Thursday, has led to a full-fledged war of words between the state’s ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) allies CPI(M) and CPI over the past two days. Close on the heels of Mani’s statement at the assembly that “it was [Rema’s] fate that she became a widow” and that “we were not responsible for it”, senior CPI leader Annie Raja had come down heavily on the Mani, calling his statements misogynistic and stating that “a communist should not have made such a remark”.

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Mani’s comment was in reference to the murder of Rema’s husband and Revolutionary Marxist Party (RMP) founder TP Chandrasekharan, a CPI(M) rebel who was hacked to death in May 2012. Three CPI(M) workers were among those who were later sentenced to life imprisonment by a Kerala court for his murder.

CPI takes exception to Mani’s remarks

Mani reportedly used a local derogatory word for Annie. Soon after, Annie told reporters in New Delhi that she would not give a reply to Mani in a similar language, because she was upholding the politics of the Left in the national capital. She added that as someone who endorses feminist and communist politics, she has faced and overcome several hurdles so far.

Mani’s remarks on Annie drew ire from the state CPI unit as well. CPI Idukki district secretary KK Sivaraman expressed hope that the CPI(M) leadership would take steps to prevent him from using such vulgar language against others in the future. Sivaraman described Mani’s comments on Annie Raja as “extremely vulgar”, adding that he has contributed a ‘themmadi nighandu’ (dictionary of the rogues) to the language. Ironically, he went on to state that Mani was using ‘pulayaattu’ language, a casteist usage, which has in turn sparked an outrage on the social media, the report said.

Cong ups the ante

The opposition Congress has also stepped up its attack against Mani and the CPI(M) leadership over the issue, alleging that the MLA was making such anti-women statements with the knowledge of chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan. Leader of opposition in the assembly VD Satheesan also pointed out that Mani had a history of making such anti-women remarks.

Satheesan urged CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury and the party’s politburo member Brinda Karat to clarify their stand on the issue. “Does the CPI(M) believe that a woman is destined to become a widow? Sitaram Yechury, Brinda Karat and others should clarify their position on this issue,” the Congress leader told reporters. He added that if the CPI(M)’s national leadership continued to support Mani and the state party unit which supported his “reactionary views”, then it can never claim to be a party that upholds progressive ideology.

Even during the assembly session on Thursday, many leaders had pointed out the misogynistic nature of Mani’s comments against Rema. The protest by the Opposition was so vehement that Speaker MB Rajesh was forced to suspend the scheduled business and adjourn the House on Friday.

Mani defiant

However, a defiant Mani had told the media outside the House that he stood by his statement and that he did not regret what he had said. He also said that he could do nothing if the statement had hurt Rema, a first-time legislator. “I still believe that what I said yesterday was right. That is what I felt like saying then. She has been criticising the Chief Minister and the LDF government in the House for the past one year and four months. We have not said anything against her so far,” Mani had said.

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Speaking to the media soon after his comments, Rema had said that she expected an apology from the party and the legislator, but that they have already proved they neither had a conscience nor compassion.

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