The CPI(M), lead partner in the ruling LDF in Kerala, on Friday rejected demands of the Congress-led UDF and the Opposition BJP for resignation of Power Minister M M Mani for his alleged insulting remarks against women.
Talking to reporters after the two-day CPI(M) state committee meeting, party State Secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said the demand was a 'political slogan' and that the CPI(M) did not view the issue as a matter warranting his removal.
“The party is not ready to accept the political slogan. It is usual for the Opposition to raise such a demand whenever an issue comes up,” he said.
On the ongoing stir by activists of 'Penpila Orumai' in Munnar, demanding the power minister's resignation, Balakrishnan quipped “it is for persons leading the strike to decide the stir”.
He said the CPI(M)'s action of publicly censuring Mani was a lesson for others in the party. “It was part of party disciplinary action as his recent speeches had brought disgrace to the party,” he added.
On Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan defending the minister in the assembly, saying his remarks had been distorted and magnified, he said the reference was only to 'Mani's style of speaking'.
73-year old Mani, representing Udumbanchola in Idukki district, had courted controversy over his remarks against 'Pembila Orumai' activists and IAS officers involved in the eviction drive from encroached lands in Munnar in Idukki district.
On decisions at the party meet, Balakrishnan said the party felt there were deliberate attempts by the UDF and the BJP to destabilise the LDF government and disintegrate the ruling Front.
“The need of the hour is to strengthen the LDF. The partners in the Front should not give a chance for the rivals to take advantage of the situation,” Balakrishnan added.
To a question, he denied there was any rift between the CPI(M) and second largest partner the CPI and added that issues had cropped up between the two parties over the eviction drive in Munnar.
“The CPI(M) is of the firm opinion that all illegal big encroachments should be evicted and there are no differences on that in the Front,” he said.
However, efforts were on from certain quarters to portray that the CPI(M) and the CPI were divided on the matter, he said.
On the controversial removal of 'Cross' as part of the eviction drive in Pappthichola in Munnar, Balakrishnan said it should have been handled in a better manner without publicity through television channels.
He said the party has decided to conduct a state-wide campaign next month against various 'anti-people' policies of the BJP-led NDA government.