Kerala

Cong. seeks to put a lid on slur row

The Congress on Friday sought to put a lid on the political controversy surrounding working president K. Sudhakaran, MP’s, "casteist remark" about Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.

Mr. Sudhakaran had ignited a row by stating that Mr. Vijayan was the first Chief Minister from a toddy tapper's family to hire a helicopter for travel. The CPI(M) had portrayed his remark as a bid to shame toddy tappers as a socially inferior class unsuited for high political office.

Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala and Congress legislator Shanimol Usman, who had initially disagreed with Mr. Sudhakaran over the "caste slur" on Mr. Vijayan, retreated from their position rather hastily.

Mr. Chennithala had earlier averred that Mr. Sudhakaran's comments were avoidable, while Ms. Usman demanded a public apology from the leader. The issue threatened to inflame into an intra-party feud in the Congress with Mr. Sudhakaran expressing his displeasure publicly.

Mr. Sudhkaran slammed Ms. Usman as a mere cat's paw of his detractors. He saw a plot to deny him his due in the Congress.

Mr. Chennithala said he was not fully seized of the facts when he made the observation. Mr. Sudhakaran had merely pointed out that Mr. Vijayan's public persona as a working-class leader conflicted with his fiscal profligacy as Chief Minister.

In a FB post, Ms. Usman apologised to Mr. Sudhakaran for her remark. She said the mistake was her own and not prompted by any Congress leader. Ms. Usman had come under fierce criticism in social media from Congress workers for "lashing out" at Mr. Sudhakaran.

The controversy also appeared to have bestowed Mr. Sudhakaran with a knight in shining armour image among Congress workers. Soon, Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee president Mullappally Ramachandran and All India Congress Committee general secretary K. C. Venugopal backed Mr. Sudhakaran.

Mr. Sudhakaran also found support from an unlikely quarter. BJP State president K. Surendran said there was nothing defamatory in Mr. Sudhakaran's statement.

Mr. Sudhakaran unleashed another tirade of criticism against Mr. Vijayan. He said Mr. Ramachandran's father, a freedom fighter; Thamarassery Bishop and N.K. Premachandran, MP; were among the targets of Mr. Vijayan's vitriolic outbursts, he said. The CPI(M) had no moral right to take umbrage at his remarks about Mr. Vijayan.

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Printable version | Apr 13, 2021 9:32:17 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/cong-seeks-to-put-a-lid-on-slur-row/article33761401.ece

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