Kerala Minister adamant on not apologising personally to plantation workers

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"Let them sit there as they have been placed there by vested interests", asserted Mani, who addressing a public meeting in Idukki on Saturday, said he knew what all went on during the strike by "Pembulai Orumae" (Women's Collective).

Mani's remarks allegedly questioning the character of women activists of a plantation workers' outfit in the district invited strong condemnation from various quarters, including from some of his own party colleagues.

Women ministers P.K. Sreemathy and J. Mercykutty Amma have expressed disappointment with Mani.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had said, "If any offensive statement was made against them (the women), it was improper".

Later, moving leave for an adjournment motion, senior Congress leader Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan said it was a "shame" that a State Minister, Mani, has spoken indecently about women and demanded that he step down.

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Chennithala sought to suspend the question hour of the assembly and discuss the issue. He added that Mani made the comments in his typical rustic style.

State Youth Congress President Dean Kuriakose said Mani should be put in chains for his acts.

The opposition disrupted Mani's attempt to give an explanation.

"Only if my party asks, will I resign", he told reporters at nearby Kunchithanni, a day after opposition parties and women organisations demanded his resignation and apology. He challenged the opposition to play the full video of the speech.

"A responsible minister has no business to abuse women and he has to first come here and apologise to these womenA and then resign", said Krishna.

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Mani had also accused an IAS officer of plotting with the RSS to pull down a cross on an encroached piece of land in Munnar.

Meanwhile, Pembilai Orumai activists Tuesday launched a hunger strike in Munnar seeking Mani's resignation.

Either way Pembilai Orumai has retaliated strongly. The women plantation workers have taken this as an affront not only to themselves but also to their struggles and the rights that they have earned.

Gomathy said the workers have been intimidated by the CPM leaders.

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