The president of the Kerala unit of the Congress on Sunday called a woman who had accused several leaders and ministers of the previous Congress-led UDF government of raping her, a “prostitute” – but backtracked soon after and apologised at the same public event.
Addressing an Opposition protest meeting against the CPM-led LDF government, Kerala PCC chief Mullappally Ramachandran said: “The Chief Minister should not think that he can escape by fielding a prostitute to tell stories against UDF leaders. Kerala is tired of hearing this.
“That is a woman who had lamented that she was raped across the state. One can understand if a woman says she has been raped once. If she’s one with self respect, she will die, otherwise our society has the circumstances to ensure it doesn’t happen again…”
Ramachandran was referring to the 2013 solar panel scam, in which businessmen and NRIs were cheated by the accused who flaunted their connections at top levels of the then Oommen Chandy government.
One of the accused in the case had told police on Saturday that Congress leader and former Minister A P Anil Kumar had raped her several times in 2013.
Ramachandran said: “I was told by a senior police officer that you (Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan) are trying to come out with a woman who is lamenting that she was raped across Kerala. Chief Minister, do you have pride, do you have shame? If you have self-respect, you should resign without waiting for a single day.’’
After Ramachandran, who was also a Minister in the UPA government at the Centre, returned to his seat however, other Congress leaders flagged the distasteful references to the woman in his speech, which had been telecast live. Ramachandran then decided to express “unconditional regret”.
“As my remarks were construed as anti-women by certain quarters, I express my regret unconditionally,’’ he said.
However, the Kerala Women’s Commission registered a case against Ramachandran. “The repeated anti-women statements of political leaders is an insult to Kerala. Such statements cannot be allowed. His apology was not sincere,” Commission chairperson M C Josephine said.
Health and Social Justice Minister K K Shailaja took strong exception to Ramachandran’s comment that a rape victim with self-respect would end her life. “Only persons with a dangerous mentality can say such things. Do rape victims who do not commit suicide have no self-respect? Did he mean that? Politicians should not repeatedly make such anti-women comments,’’ Shailaja said.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines