A day after Congress state president Mullappally Ramachandran said state Health Minister K K Shailaja wanted “to become Covid queen”, he refused to tender an apology on Saturday, even as Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan referred to the remarks as “anti-women”.
While addressing a Congress protest over the Centre’s decision to make Covid-19 tests mandatory for expats, Ramachandran had said, “The health minister has done little for the state’s fight against Covid-19 and Nipah. When the Nipah outbreak was reported in Kozhikode (in 2018), a few persons had tried to take the credit (for containing the outbreak). It was the work of doctors and nurses that helped contain Nipah. Congress leaders Ramesh Chennithala, Oommen Chandy and I had been there on various occasions. The minister (Shailaja) had camped in Kozhikode only as a guest artist. She had then been trying for the title of Nipah princess. Now, she wants to become Covid Queen.”
He refused to apologise on Saturday, saying, “There is no reason to tender an apology. I am not Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to insult womanhood. The credit of containing Covid-19 goes to health workers, not to the chief minister or the health minister.”
Responding, Vijayan said the attack on Shailaja reflected a peculiar mental status, and that the comments were anti-women.
“We don’t see this as a cheap criticism of the leader of the opposition party. Instead, it shows that he gets disturbed when the world lauds the state. We have been fighting against Covid-19 in a manner praised by the world. We have arrested the pandemic, winning the attention of the entire world.”
He said the Congress state president had insulted Kerala. “At the time of a catastrophe, everyone stands together. The statement of Congress state chief has created an impression before the world that the state is a deviation to that approach.”
He further claimed that the Opposition is worried about credit. “Be it Nipah or Covid-19, the credit goes to the people of this state.”
Meanwhile, Sajeesh, the husband of nurse Lini Puthussery, who died of the virus while treating a patient, joined the fray. In a Facebook post, Sajeesh claimed that Ramachandran… hadn’t even bothered to console him following the death of his wife. It was Shailaja who stood with the family. The couple hailed from Vatakara LS constituency, which Ramachandran had represented in 2018.
The Congress state president denied the allegation.
After Sajeesh’s Facebook post, a group of Congress workers took out a march to the primary health centre in Kozhikode district, where he works as clerical staff — a job the government gave him after Lini’s death.
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