Kerala Plantation Workers Want Minister To Go For Comments Against Stir

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Kerala Plantation Workers Want Minister To Go For Comments Against Stir

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At a meeting in Idukki on Saturday, the minister allegedly questioned the group's month-long protest.

Munnar, Kerala:  Kerala's electricity minister MM Mani is facing a protest by a group of women tea plantation workers in Munnar for his controversial remark that allegedly questioned their morality and character.

At a meeting in Idukki on Saturday, the minister allegedly questioned the group's month-long protest in 2015 for better wages as tea plantation workers. At the time, he also made statements that allegedly questioned their morality during the protests.

"MM Mani has to resign. He has to fall on our feet and apologise. He won elections asking for women's votes, how dare he speak like this? He says we were drunk and lying around during our protests. Did he see this? We protested for wages. He is an abomination on the party," one of the women protesters of Pembilai Orumai told media.

Over 4,000 women from the group had taken on the tea estate owners in 2015, demanding higher wages. But they had kept trade unions and men away from their protest, saying for decades, women have been subject to exploitation in tea plantations.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan condemned the minister's remark saying, "It is not correct for minister to speak like this. Pembilai Orumai is a women's Collective movement from Munnar. It isn't right to make derogatory remarks against them." Reacting to the Chief Minister's statement, MM Mani blamed the media for editing his speech. "I did not mean to say anything against the women's collective. I know them all. I haven't named any woman", MM Mani said.

Meanwhile, BJP has called for a hartal or strike in Munnar as the women' collective have decided to continue their protest.

The women's protest comes a day after Mr Mani lashed out at the Devikulam sub-collector in Idukki who spearheaded the anti-encroachment drive in ecologically sensitive Munnar.

Angry that a cross on top of a hill was also bulldozed, Mr Mani said, "The sub-collector who tried to remove the cross is working on the behest of the RSS and is similar to Babri Masjid demolition. He should be sent to a mental asylum."

Revenue minister E Chandrashekharan, though, backed the official, saying he was informed of the demolitions and the anti-encroachment drives will continue.

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