Kerala Minister adamant on not apologising personally to plantation workers

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Munnar (Kerala), April 24 (IANS) Kerala Power Minister M.M. Mani, who is facing flak for his remarks about women plantation workers, on Monday said that he has already apologised but will not go personally to say sorry to some of them sitting on a protest near here.

Meanwhile, the agitating women plantation workers demanded he come to them to apologise and that he must resign as he has no moral right to continue in his post.

Mani told reporters here that he has apologised for his statement on Sunday itself.

“There is no question of me going to Munnar and apologising before the protesting women. 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).

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“It was a stage-managed protest led by vested interests. I know what all happened. When the strike was on, other activities were taking place in nearby forests,” he had said.

Soon after the TV channels started airing these visuals from Sunday, there was widespread condemnation of Mani’s remarks. Apart from Women’s Collective leaders like Gomathy coming down heavily on Mani, the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party too got into the act and have demanded that Mani should go.

Gomathy, who is sitting on a road near here since Sunday evening in protest along with three other women workers, said: “We are not going to call off our protest, unless he (Mani) comes and apologises before us. He has abused us in the most heinous words saying we are ‘prostitutes’.

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“We will remain here till he comes before us and he has no moral right to continue as a minister, he must resign.”

Mahila Congress president Bindhu Krishna and her office bearers on Monday morning arrived at Munnar to express their solidarity with Gomathy and told the media that they will be there till Gomathy’s demands are met.

“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.

Meanwhile, the ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist’s state secretariat, in which Mani is a member, is expected to meet to discuss this issue. But with the assembly session starting on Tuesday, the Congress-led opposition is certainly to take up this issue on the floor of the house.

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