Mani’s ‘It was her destiny’ remark shocks Kerala congregation; house adjourned

A ruling CPI(M) lawmaker’s controversial remark against an MLA woman “It was her fate” rocked the Kerala Assembly for a second day on Friday, forcing Speaker MB Rajesh to suspend the proposed deal and adjourn the House for the Day.

MM Mani, who made the controversial remarks against RMP MLA KK Rema, stayed on despite fierce protests from the Congress-led opposition, who demanded that he retract his “cruel and insulting” statement and apologize. Mani told the media outside the House of Representatives that he stood by his testimony and had no regrets about what he said. The veteran, also a former minister in Pinarayi Vijayan’s first government, said there was nothing he could do if the statement hurt Rema, a first-time MP and widow of assassinated rebel leader TP Chandrasekaran.

Chandraseharan, a CPI(M) rebel, was hacked to death in May 2012 after he launched a parallel left-wing organization called the Revolutionary Marxist Party (RMP) in his home region of Onchiayam in North Kerala. “I still believe what I said yesterday was correct. I don’t regret what I said. That’s what I wanted to say at the time. She has criticized the Prime Minister (Vijayan) and the LDF government in the House for the past year and four months. We haven’t said anything against them so far,” said Mani.

Mani claimed he did not make any misogynist remarks, as claimed by the opposition, and also said there is no special privilege or reservation for a lawmaker in the Kerala Assembly, except for those holding positions such as prime minister, speaker or opposition leader. Mani, while attending discussions in the House of Representatives on police money requests on Thursday, said Rema had become a widow and that was her fate and that the Marxist party played no role in her husband’s assassination, prompting major protests from the opposition UDF and his strike.

As the House trial began Friday, Congress-led UDF members raised the question that Mani had insulted womanhood and that he should retract his testimony and apologize in the House plenary.

They also raised placards and a banner reading “MM Mani who has insulted femininity should resign”. However, Justice Minister P Rajeeve justified Mani, saying he meant that the ruling CPI(M) played no role in the killing of Rema’s husband. Criticizing the opposition, he also said the same people who had called the recent killing of an SFI activist “a required martyrdom” were now causing a stir and shouting in the congregation.

Opposition leader VD Satheesaan dismissed the ruling banks’ arguments and said he was surprised to see the CM and LDF lawmakers backing and justifying Mani. Speaker Rajesh said the Chair had limited ability to intervene in the matter and the House practice was to look into whether there had been any unparliamentary remarks from lawmakers and later remove them. Although he attempted to start Question Time as planned, opposition members stormed into the House fountain and raised slogans against Mani and the left-wing government.

As protests grew and UDF members ignored his repeated requests for cooperation, the Speaker suspended planned business and adjourned the House for the day.

The UDF members later held a sit-in at the hall’s portal before marching out of the meeting complex. Satheesan vehemently criticized Vijayan for justifying MM Mani’s testimony and later accused the CPI(M) and CM of pursuing his widow Rema even after killing Chandrasekaran.

“Mani said she became a widow because of fate. But this vidhi (ruling) was implemented by the party court (CPI-M),” he claimed, slamming Vijayan over the episode. He further accused the CPI(M) of being a party that produces orphans and widows, and even justified derogatory remarks against a woman with its arrogance of power. Rema said the intolerance of members of the ruling party and the prime minister towards her is evidence of their fear of her husband even after his death.

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